Three-weekly collection pilot set to start in St Helens in 'late summer'

St Helens Council is targeting late summer for the start of a revised recycling service
St Helens Council is targeting late summer for the start of a revised recycling service

St Helens Council is targeting “late summer” for the start of a revised recycling service including three-weekly collections, the portfolio holder for waste services said.

A collection trial at approximately 1,000 properties in the Shires Estate and Fingerpost areas of the town centre was originally planned to start in February.

However, while the pilot technically started with letters going out to residents affected by the changes, the actual collections were delayed due to issues with securing new recycling containers.

On Wednesday, an update on the pilot was provided to the council’s environment, regeneration, housing, culture and leisure overview and scrutiny panel.

Coun Lynn Clarke, cabinet member for better neighbourhoods, told the panel that letters have now gone out to all households in the pilot areas.

The Labour councillor said the council has something “really special lined up” regarding new containers but said she could not go into details due to “commercial sensitivity”.

She did reveal however that residents will have the option whether or not to use the council’s current pink and blue recycling bags.

When pushed on when the trial will begin, Coun Clarke said “late summer”.

Coun Clarke also moved to douse any talk that the delay is due to the local authority not being able to calculate the number of containers it requires.

“The delay in the collection from the pilot areas has got nothing whatsoever to do with not being able to count the number of receptacles,” she said.

“We know absolutely full well how many receptacles we need, and we know how many properties are in the pilot area.

“There’s been some whispers around not being able to count – that’s absolute rubbish.

“We are mainly constrained by the commercial sensitivity of what we can and can’t say from the company that we’re looking with.”

Paul McHenry, the council’s service manager for environmental and transport services, said the new containers may not be available until early autumn.

He added that the new receptacles have not been trialled anywhere in the UK.

Mr McHenry said: “Together with an Irish company and the company producing the containers, I would suggest we’re looking at late summer, possibly early autumn.

“Because there are a couple of things that are quite unique about this development.

“I think it will be worth waiting for, I really do. I’m kind of pinning my hopes on it being a big success. So, I would suggest that would be the timeframe.”

Mr McHenry said this will give the council sufficient time to do the work that is needed on the ground to promote the pilot, educate residents and listen to any feedback.

The transport boss also told members that two new “recycling advocates” have been recruited and are currently in training.

He said the recycling advocates will work initially in the pilot area to help answer any questions and address any concerns residents may have.