Controversial plans to introduce three-weekly brown bin collections will not work if residents are not “on board”, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for waste services has said.
It was originally proposed to begin a pilot, covering two routes from September, with a view to a full roll-out in September 2019, although the decision was deferred by cabinet in February to allow for further scrutiny.
The findings of a task group set up to scrutinise the plans, which are part of a wider revamp of waste services, were presented to cabinet by Haydock councillor Martin Bond this week.
A total of 14 recommendations have been set out in the report, including the call for the council to launch a full public consultation.
Coun Bond, who chaired the task group, said this decision was made due to comments from a senior council officer who spoke at one of two public meetings last month.
“We need to get that engagement, we need people to come with us on it,” the Labour councillor said.
“I’ve been quoted in the press that it is imperative that we have a consultation. That needs clarification and some qualification.
“That phrase, that it is imperative, comes from a comment made by a senior officer, which was, if we tried to take those three-weeklies now – it would be disastrous.
“That’s from a senior officer and that’s where that comes from, in case anybody might have an idea that we’re being awkward.
“We weren’t – it was based on evidence given to us by a senior officer.”
Coun Lynn Clarke, cabinet member for better neighbourhoods, said it is important to make sure the council engages with residents over the plans.
“It won’t work if we don’t take residents on board with us,” she said.
“We do have residents’ interests at heart.”
The town centre ward councillor said the authority risks being fined if it does not reach an EU recycling target of 50 per cent by 2020, as well as incur extra landfill charges.
“It’s very important we do everything that we can,” Coun Clarke said.
“We’ve taken on board a lot of the recommendations and we’re certainly going to look at all of them to see if we can impact and deliver on them all.”
Coun Derek Long, leader of the council, said the authority is a “very, very long way” from reaching the target, revealing that the recycling rate has dropped from almost 40 per cent to 36 per cent.
Coun Bond said the size, durability and cost of replacing receptacles – as well as the overall complexity of the system – was something the council needs to reflect on to see if it can “do better”.
He added that the group believe the garden waste collection permits – which launched in June 2017 – should be scrapped.
Another recommendation by the task group is that sufficient resources be allocated for additional enforcement measures to tackle any possible increase in fly-tipping.
Coun Bond highlighted findings that fly-tipping in Wigan has decreased since implementing three-weekly collections last September.
Coun Long said he and his cabinet now need to time to “reflect” on the findings.
“Many, many of these recommendations are positive and appear implementable,” the West Park ward councillor said.
“Some are much more complicated and difficult, and I think we need to reflect a bit on those.”
Kenny Lomas , Local Democracy Reporting Service