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Call to boycott clothes banks after Bromley Council strip charity Scope of collection scheme
A cerebral palsy sufferer’s mother is urging people to boycott clothes banks after cash-strapped Bromley Council turns to a private company to run the service. RACHEL CONNER finds out more.
THE charity Scope, which provides support for cerebral palsy and other disabled people, has been running the borough’s 34 clothes banks for the last 10 years.
Last year it managed to raise around £360,000 from selling the 213 tonnes of clothes donated to them but from next month it will no longer be able to put its clothes banks on council owned land, such as pavements.
Instead Veolia, the environmental company which currently provides waste services for the council, will be running their own banks and selling the clothes donated for profit.
The council will take a cut of these profits.
Toni Lee, whose 11-year-old daughter Libby was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was a toddler, is disgusted with the change which she fears will damage the services the charity can provide.
Mrs Lee, of Commonside, Keston, said: "It is a lot of money for Scope and I think it is very bad.
"The charity works so hard to support people.
"Now I would not drop it in the banks and I’d make sure I took it to the shop.
"If I ever want to query something I can pick up the phone and call them.
"For some people it is their lifeline and I would say boycott the banks because it’s pretty disgusting."
Scope’s chief executive Richard Hawkes said: "Make no mistake; this scheme will hurt charity shops which rely on donations.
"We understand all councils have to make tough spending decisions, but the real value of donated clothes to charity and society is when they are re-sold in shops.
"When you donate clothes do you want them to line wealthy businessmen’s pockets?"
The change to the clothes banks is part of a larger plan to increase textile collections in the borough and so reduce the amount which is taken to landfill.
The council says around four per cent of the waste which ends up in the bin is textiles so will be rolling out a door step collection service in the coming months to try and reduce this figure.
Portfolio holder for the environment Councillor Colin Smith said: "These changes are designed to increase choice and convenience to local residents while at the same time saving money for the taxpayer.
"We fully support and thoroughly respect anyone who prefers to donate their clothes to charity and this option remains available to anyone who wishes to do so at the many charity shops dotted across the borough.
"Ultimately however, in an era of severe budget cuts to local councils, we simply have to save money wherever we can to support our core vital services to the vulnerable in our borough and these changes will assist us in doing so."
A council spokesman said: “By collecting textiles directly, recycling rates will increase and the amount payable in landfill will reduce and as with any ‘recyclate’ the textiles sold will provide an income.”