All ratepayers are equal - though some are more equal than others

ANTRIM and Newtownabbey Council has literally rolled out a new recycling scheme this week - but its ‘Wheelie Box’ will be delivered to the green fingers of hand-picked locals.

Since the merger, the mantra from the civic leaders of the new ‘Super Council’ has been unity - there is no ‘them and us’, just one big happy family.

But with a marked numerical advantage in the council chamber in favour of what was formerly Newtownabbey, there was always a nagging sense that when it came to the crunch they were the senior partners in the new arrangement.

And that was apparently confirmed when the new body first met. Gone were the Thursday afternoon meetings favoured by Antrim, replaced by Monday nights - coincidentally the very night Newtownabbey held theirs.

Then came the lavish ceremonial robes, the Mayor’s chauffeur driven car, the international fact-finding trips, all decisions of note taken behind closed doors in ‘Group Leaders’ Meetings’. Suddenly there were rumblings that perhaps this was not a merger at all - it was a hostile takeover.

Not so, said the council. Oh no, each and every ratepayer - be they in Glengormley or Toome - would benefit from a bigger, better, meaner, leaner local government.

But it seems that the perks depend on where you live.

The aforementioned ‘Wheelie Boxes’ contain three separate containers stacked on a trolley and can be used to recycle a range of household items including tins, plastic bottles, foil, textiles ‘and much more’.

So have you got yours yet? If not, then you probably won’t.

A statement this week confirmed that 38,000 ‘Wheelie Boxes’ had been distributed ‘to the Newtownabbey side of the Borough’.

All ratepayers are equal, but it appears that some are more equal than others.

So who did the council wheel out to announce their latest innovation? Why, Antrim Town rep John Smyth.

He is clearly a big fan - even though he will not be able to lay his hands on one.

“We currently recycle over 52 per cent of our household waste which is a fantastic achievement by the people of Antrim and Newtownabbey but we need to boost local recycling even more,” he explained.

“Sending rubbish to landfill costs significantly more than recycling, and with disposal costs increasing year on year we need to shift the focus from waste disposal to recycling in order to save ratepayers money.

“We hope to see local recycling figures increase even more now that every household in Newtownabbey has this service.”

In other words, hard luck Antrim.

Eric Randall, Director of Bryson Recycling, offered some hope for frustrated local recyclers.

“The Wheelie Box has enormous potential to be rolled out across Northern Ireland and the UK, and we are delighted to be at the forefront of this exciting innovation,” he said.

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