Peter Lewis has criticised Bromley Council for its decision to oust Scope from clothing recycling bins on its property, in favour of a private company.
The chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising took to Twitter to describe the council’s actions as “madness”. The charity has also collected more than 1,000 signatures from residents, but the council shows no sign of backing down. In fact, it said the charity should think about collecting door-to-door instead or shifting its recycling banks to private property.
Scope has 34 charity clothing banks on the council sites which supply four of its charity shops in the area. It estimates that the decision will cost the charity £360,000 per year through missing out on donations.
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope said that if the trend continues it “will cost charities like Scope millions in donations”.
"We urge councils to think twice before deciding to sell off these sites. They make a big difference by supporting the work of charities, like Scope," he added.
In a consultation document the council predicted that handing the site to Veolia, which already had a contract with the council to provide waste disposal services, would make between £75,000 and £135,000 for the council from its cut of the sale of donated goods.
The campaign against Bromley's decision is being supported by Charity Retail Association, which is coordinating the national campaign calling on councils to continue work with charities. Scope is collecting signatures from customers in its Bromley South, Petts Wood, Beckenham Junction and Orpington shops and plans to hand the petition to the council before the 31 May deadline.
Last year Hertfordshire and Northumberland councils made a similar decision which meant Scope was unable to collect donations from 46 banks and losing out on £400,000 worth of donations.
In March London Councils and the London Waste and Recycling Board revealed that they were considering creating a single textile recycling bank contract for the capital based on Hertfordshire model.
Council shows no sign of budging
Executive councillor for the environment at Bromley Council, Colin Smith defended the council's decision and said: “We remain extremely supportive of all charities and the valuable work that they do and strongly encourage local residents to donate their clothes to a charity of their choice. This can easily be done at one of many charity shops dotted around the Borough, including Scope’s own, rather than simply supporting a single charity as the old banks have been doing.
“The new collection service will serve to support many charities as well as providing local employment, as the company who recycle the collected textiles make significant donations to a number of charities, in excess of £2m per year.”
He also highlighted that over the last few years the amount of clothing collected from the banks had been declining, from 472 tonnes in 2007/08 to 176 tonnes in 2011/12.
He said: “We are simply changing our policy to reflect what many councils have always done. Recycling banks are not as popular as they were and door-to-door collections are proving to be more popular and effective.”
A spokesman for the charity told civilsociety.co.uk that: “If donations are going down then it is more important to hang onto these sites.”
Smith suggested that Scope consider door-to-door collections or could “relocate their banks on private land if they wish to.”