A formal challenge to the decision to move to fortnightly refuse collections in Adur and Worthing has been rejected.
Labour councillors had requested a call-in of the decision to introduce fortnightly refuse collections, which was agreed by the leadership of both Adur and Worthing councils at a joint strategic committee meeting last Tuesday (November 6).
Twelve opposition councillors had claimed that the ‘hasty’ decision ‘broke the councils’ own rules for decision making’ and asked for a full period of consultation and a review by the Councils’ Scrutiny Committee.
But in a letter seen by the Herald, which was sent yesterday, the councils Legal Department rejected the request for a call-in on the grounds that was insufficient evidence the committee failed to comply with decision making principles.
It had been alleged that the councils failed in their obligation, as set out in the councils’ constitution, to publish advance notice that a key decision was to be made.
Notice is required 28 days before a decision is made but some councillors had considered that only eight days of notice was provided – from the moment a press release announcing the proposal was published on Monday, October 29.
However, the councils’ solicitor said: “There is evidence that the matter was included on the Councils’ forward plan on 26th September 2018, providing in excess of 28 days’ notice of the decision.
“The forward plan was made available on the Councils’ website and at their offices for public inspection.”
The Councils’ Constitutions state that proper regard should be paid to the outcome of any consultation.
But the solicitor said that, as no consultation was undertaken, there was no breach of this obligation.
“Further, on balance, I do not consider that the Councils were under a legal duty to consult with the public on the operational arrangements relating to the way in which they deliver the service of waste and recycling collection and therefore a failure to carry out consultation does not render the decision contrary to the law,” the solicitor wrote.
A report outlining the full reasons for the rejection will be submitted to the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday, November 29.
The letter summarised: “I can find no evidence that the decision made in relation to this matter was not made in accordance with the law, nor that there was a failure to pay proper regard to the outcome of any consultation, nor that there was a failure to comply with any of the other principles of decision-making.
In response to the news, Labour councillor Les Alden said: “I am flabbergasted at the decision to reject our call-in for further examination of this important decision to change from weekly to fortnightly waste collections in Adur and Worthing.
“There are many reasons why this decision should be reviewed by a wider group of councillors on the Scrutiny Committee.
“Residents are rightly concerned that less frequent collections could add to mess and dumping.
“Although all would wish to increase recycling there is so far little evidence that this proposal would be the best way to achieve it.
“We need to see more evidence and also examine what alternative or additional measures could be devised.
“A reference to the Scrutiny committee would allow councillors to question the decision makers and determine that this is the right decision for the right reasons.”