Council chiefs defend reduced bin collections
OLDHAM Council chiefs last night explained why they believe bin collections in the borough must be reduced to once every three weeks as Cabinet members approved the controversial plans.
The aim of the proposals is to boost recycling rates and save money with changes to how rubbish and recycling is collected across the borough.
At last night’s Oldham Council Cabinet meeting, Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and co-operatives, revealed that the authority currently spends approximately £15million every year on its bin collection service - a figure which must be reduced, particularly in the face of more government funding cuts.
The changes, which will now go before full council after being unanimously approved at last night’s meeting, will see grey bins for general rubbish collected one week, blue bins for paper and cardboard the week after and brown bins for glass, plastics and tins the following week.
News of the plans sparked outrage last week with hundreds of residents contacting the Chronicle with concerns over an increase in fly-tipping and vermin.
However, one councillor last night claimed that around 70 per cent of the content put in grey bins in Oldham could be recycled.
The proposed changes - which would be introduced in early October - aim to improve the borough’s recycling rate by 12 per cent and save the authority approximately £3million over the next two years.
Councillor Brownridge said: “We haven’t gone into this lightly, there’s a great deal of background work that’s gone into this.
“People in Oldham have been very lucky, officers have worked tirelessly in limiting the cuts to frontline services - we are now no longer at that stage.
“This is going to be the first of a number of very painful decisions that we will have to take.
“We will not be taking them lightly. I must point out that recycling is something we must be doing.
“Due to government funding cuts over the last few years Oldham Council has had to change the way our frontline services work.
“These changes to our waste collection service are the latest but we are confident they will continue to provide value for money.
“Over the next few years we want to see to our recycling rates increase so we don’t have to pay huge financial penalties.
“By cutting disposal costs we’ll be helping to save council taxpayers’ money, which can be used on other essential public services.
“Over the next two years the council needs to make £37million worth of savings.
“Making these changes will help avoid further costs putting even more pressure on the council’s budget. Doing nothing is not an option. We’d also like to remind residents that using their weekly collections for food waste and garden waste will eliminate the potential for bad smells and flies, particularly during warmer weather.”
Councillor Brownridge also criticised Labour’s official opposition on Oldham Council, the Liberal Democrats, for disagreeing with the changes despite suggesting waste collection changes in their alternative budget proposals.
Collection days will stay the same. For example, if a household’s bins are currently collected on a Monday this will continue after the change.
Packs with information about the changes and a recycling guide will be delivered to all households during July.
Bin collection calendars specific to each area will be distributed to all residents in September to ensure people are ready and informed.
There are a very small number of properties in the borough that will be affected slightly differently - namely flats with communal bins and rural areas.
The council will communicate with these residents separately to ensure they are clear on how the changes affect them.
Details of the new service can also be found on the council website at www.oldham.gov.uk/waste or by calling 0161-770 6644.