Row over bike recycling means change in tender

Pic Lisa McPhillips 28/02/2014'I Am Bikes. Founder Angela Fitzsimons is in dispute with North Lanarkshire Council.
Pic Lisa McPhillips 28/02/2014'I Am Bikes. Founder Angela Fitzsimons is in dispute with North Lanarkshire Council.

A row involving environmental groups and North Lanarkshire Council has led to a change in the way unwanted bicycles are dealt with.

Today (Wednesday) councillors are expected to agree to put out to tender all arrangements regarding which organisations are allowed to collect discarded cycles from its dumps.

Cumbernauld-based group I Am Bikes has been complaining that the bikes located in the local dumps including at Wardpark - by far the biggest source of these bikes in North Lanarkshire - have been collected by Stirling’s Recyke-a-bike group instead of them.

I Am Bikes founder Angela Fitzsimons says the arrangement with Recyke-a-Bike is forcing her group to collect bikes from East Kilbride instead, even ‘though I Am Bikes was given a £250,000 Scottish Government grant to promote recycling in Cumbernauld.

Angela added: “If NLC continue to favour Recyke-a-Bike over their local Cumbernauld based organisation we will be forced to close when our funding runs out in February.”

Ken Wilson, NLC’s head of environment and estates, dismissed Angela’s claims he had “threatened” her with the tender process as “outrageous and personally insulting”.

He added that the arrangement with Recyke-a-bike was in place long before I Am Bikes was established. The benefits to the council are help with recycling targets and reduced landfill tax bills.

Mr Wilson added: “However, since there now appears to be competition among a number of groups, we think it’s time for more formal agreements to be put in place and we are drafting a tender process.

“We do not plan on levying any charge on the recycling groups. But as there is clearly money to be made and jobs at stake, it is only right that the selection process be fair and transparent.”

Jamie Hepburn, MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, has said he is “disappointed” in the level of support I Am Bikes has received from the council.

He added:“We have the ludicrous situation whereby a Cumbernauld based project has to source bicycles from East Kilbride, with all the added expense and difficulty that entails.

“I have previously contacted North Lanarkshire Council on behalf of I Am Bikes highlighting this very point.”

Also speaking up on behalf of I Am Bikes was Labour councillor Stephanie Griffin.

She said: “I’ve told the waste management team to put the bikes contract out to tender to allow local organisations a fair crack of the whip.

At the monthly meeting on Wednesday this will formally be agreed. I just wish Angela had come to me sooner.”