A move to fortnightly collections for general waste household bins in Adur and Worthing has been agreed and will start in September 2019.
Council leaders felt the move will help increase the area’s recycling rate by forcing residents to think more carefully about what they are putting in their residual bins.
The current rate is 35 per cent in Adur and 37 per cent in Worthing, both far off the 50 per cent national target set by Government for areas to reach by 2020.
Fortnightly green waste collections and a general collection every three weeks were both options ruled out.
The change to an alternate weekly system was agreed by the leadership of both Adur and Worthing councils at a joint strategic committee meeting in Shoreham on Tuesday night (November 6).
This is set to save the two authorities £594,000 a year due to reduced operational and fuel costs, not having to fund more rounds and extra revenue from increased recycling.
Implementation costs are expected to be around £120,000 to communicate and promote the changes, project management and extra contact centre staff.
No redundancies are expected as officers said any reductions in required staff numbers could be managed by not filling vacancies, reducing agency spend and if required redeployments.
Flexibility will be retained so weekly collections can continue for houses of multiple occupancy (flats) and town centre properties with limited space for storage.
Properties with five or more permanent residents or households with medical needs can apply for a larger 240 litre capacity bin, with a £20 delivery charge to cover the cost of purchase.
It was suggested on Tuesday night the fee could be waived for households with medical needs.
The changes first announced last week have come as a surprise as Conservative election campaign literature has repeatedly pledged to maintain weekly refuse collections.
Dan Humphreys, leader of Worthing Borough Council, suggested they had hit a buffer with their recycling levels and if they wanted to increase rates alternate weekly collections would drive them up.
He said: “This is the right thing to do and it’s the right time. I will be supporting these changes tonight.”
Neil Parkin, leader of Adur District Council, added: “The one thing we will be maintaining is a quality service. It will be quality staff, in quality vehicles providing a quality service.
“We are doing this because it’s the right thing to do and we are not playing party politics with it.”
He continued: “There will be a lot of noise and wind about this but I think personally it’s the right thing and the right time to do it.”
One of the main criticisms has been the speed at which the changes have been agreed and the lack of consultation with staff, the public and opposition councillors.
Unison’s Adur and Worthing branch said it was surprised to hear about proposals last week without prior notice ‘following previous assurances that weekly collections would be maintained’.
Les Alden, Labour group leader on Adur council, raised concerns about the need for consultation before implementation, while fellow Labour councillor Lee Cowen said they needed more detailed information about the impact of moving to fortnightly collections on recycling rates in areas similar to Adur and Worthing.
Before Tuesday night’s vote the Herald called for proper consultation with residents before any changes were agreed, as we questioned whether education programmes to increase recycling had been good - or extensive- enough.
Val Turner, Worthing’s executive member for health and wellbeing, said they should be putting pressure on West Sussex County Council to develop a separate food waste collection.
Meanwhile the need to look at the disposal of nappies was a point raised by Emma Evans, Adur’s executive member for the environment.
The need for clearer information about recycling and improved education for residents was also stressed by a number of speakers.
Several Conservatives spoke about how they had recently made a renewed effort to recycling more, which had demonstrated to them a fortnightly general collection was workable.
Angus Dunn, Adur’s executive member for resources, said: “I now no longer buy into the idea that getting rid of a weekly residual waste collection would be a problem for many families.”
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