Opposition councillors have accused the Tories of a ‘massive u-turn’ following proposals to scrap weekly bin collections across Adur and Worthing.
It was announced today that a new scheme to alternate the collections of perishable and non-recyclable waste with recycled waste could be introduced across the area – read more here.
The councils said it would help boost recycling rates, which need to reach a government target of 50 per cent by 2020.
Opposition councillors have labelled the proposal ‘a massive u-turn’ for the Tory administration, which has repeatedly expressed pride in the weekly collections in the past – but councillor Neil Parkin, leader of Adur District Council, said it was the right time and the ‘right thing to do’.
Labour councillor Lee Cowen said: “[The Conservatives] made a big play on the fact they were keeping weekly bin collections, comparing themselves favourably with Brighton and Hove.
“It was a big thing in their election campaign and it was in their literature, and in addition they were attacking us for apparently not committing to weekly bin collections – when we hadn’t made any comment on it really.
“They were running a smear campaign against us which is quite ironic when, only a couple of months later, that is what they are proposing now.”
Lib Dem councillor Bob Smytherman agreed it was a ‘massive u-turn’ for the Tories, but believed it was ‘the right u-turn’ and the only way to boost recycling.
He said he had previously proposed the idea himself during a scrutiny committee meeting, adding; “They’ve realised I was right.
“It’s a really sensible proposal. If you are serious about the environment, that’s the only way to do it.
“I’m really confident we can do it if they are brave enough to adopt it.”
He said current recycling rates in the area were ‘disgraceful’ and the new system would be ‘a lot more efficient and a lot better for the environment’ – though he warned it needed to be ‘implemented properly’.
Mr Smytherman added that he hoped Labour councillors would also join him in ‘putting people before politics’ to support the proposal.
Councillor Rebecca Cooper, Leader of the Labour Group for Worthing Borough Council, said the group had been calling for a review of waste collection services for some time and were pleased alternative proposals were being considered.
“These proposed changes have a cost saving element, but it is important that they comprehensively assist our local population in their own efforts to recycle,” she said.
“We will be scrutinising these proposals as they come forward, to ensure that they have fully considered the requirements of our local population with regard to bin size and clear and simple information on what can and cannot be recycled.
“Furthermore, we would like to see the introduction of food recycling collection, to continue to improve our recycling capability and to ensure that we do not attract any unwanted issues with rodents.
“Many residents of Worthing are unable to compost, as they do not have a garden space, and this therefore needs to be considered as we seek to maximise recycling in our area.”
In a joint statement, the leaders of Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council, Councillor Neil Parkin and Councillor Dan Humphreys, acknowledged they had ‘rightly prided ourselves on our refuse collection service which is second to none’.
“However times change and we have to continually review our policies,” they said.
Mr Parkin said residents wanted the councils to take action to increase recycling.
“I think things changed a lot on the public side in the last six months, since Blue Planet came out and everyone saw the plastic in the oceans,” he said.
“I personally had lots of people coming to me saying what’s the council going to do about it?
“We are not recycling enough, some people don’t bother at all.
“We’ve got to get up to 50 per cent in two years which doesn’t leave that many options.
“We’re tried the education thing but you can only go so far. We have to do something and I think now is the time to do it.”
He said the rollout of the service in Horsham had seen recycling rates increase to a ‘phenomenal’ level, in spite of the ‘odd hiccup’ along the way.
He added that it might give the councils ‘wriggle room’ to introduce food recycling in the future – though he said there was ‘a long way to go’ on that front.
While there were also ‘good financial reasons’ to introduce a new service, the environmental reasons were paramount, he said, adding: “We just think if we are going to do it then now’s the time to do it.”
The proposals will go before the councils’ Joint Strategic Committee on November 6 for possible adoption.
If adopted, the scheme would be introduced in September 2019.