Fortnightly collections to be binned

Bin collecting in Platt Bridge
Bin collecting in Platt Bridge

Waste bin collections in the borough are set to move to a three-week rota as part of town hall plans to make huge savings as a result of budget cuts.

Council bosses hope the new system will boost recycling rates, saving £2m per year.

We think we can do it with a minimum impact on the public by moving to collections every three weeks

Lord Smith

Residents are being offered a chance to have their say on the proposals as part of a borough-wide consultation launched this week.

But town hall leaders insist moving to less frequent collections is a more cost-effective option than keeping the current rota but with smaller bins.

Council leader Lord Smith also revealed plans to limit council tax increases next year to the amount permitted to raise extra funds for adult social care.

Meanwhile, school crossing patrols have been saved from the axe with the town hall suggesting getting rid would pose a safety risk for youngsters.

Wigan borough is currently the only authority in Greater Manchester to still have fortnightly collections for standard size black bins.

If approved, the new system will be brought in by September 2017. Green waste collections will also change to a collection every three weeks between November and March.

Union leaders and staff from the council’s Environment Services team based at the super depot in Ince were being briefed on the proposals on Tuesday.

Lord Smith said the changes would not result in job losses for the borough’s cohort of binmen but with the department facing cutbacks of more than £8m over the next three years, the plans may set alarm bells ringing.

The three weekly cycle, if approved following the residents’ survey by the local authority’s cabinet members, would start in September 2017.

Green bin collections would remain on their current fortnightly rota apart from between November and March each year, but this aspect of the new system will not start until 2018.

Around £2m will be saved from reducing landfill charges and making the services more efficient, the town hall said.

Lord Smith said: “We think we can do it with a minimum impact on the public by moving to collections every three weeks. We can learn from what (other GM authorities) have done to know what you don’t do, in some respects.

“We think it would be a stupid thing to reduce the bin sizes because we need to increase recycling, so we’re not proposing to give households smaller bins and only collect them every three weeks.

“We’re keeping the bin sizes the same and we’re trying to make sure that the big collection times of the year, like at Christmas, we will increase efficiency by not collecting green waste fortnightly because we don’t think people are necessarily mowing their lawns during the winter period.

“We can save roughly £2m in this area, which will be invested in other services which are priority and help us to keep the council tax down.”

“If we don’t increase recycling we start to pay fines on landfill tax for example, and that’s a waste of everyone’s money.

“We looked at school crossing patrols but decided they are vital for safety so we’re not proposing to get rid of those like some authority areas are.

“It’s not good news in Wigan (the budget forecast overall) but it’s certainly not the bleak news we are seeing in other areas.

“That’s because we rose to the task, since 2010 we’ve taken £115m from the budgets, we’ve taken £30m off back-office services and protected frontline services.

“We know that up to 2020 there’s a further £45m to take, our budgets have been approved and we think we’ve got a reasonable strategy.

“We want to try to get feedback from the public about what we’re proposing to do, hence the consultation.”