A proposal to scrap weekly rubbish collections has been put on hold.
Brighton and Hove City Council wants to drop weekly bin rounds in favour of weekly food waste collections.
Under the proposed changes, recycling would still be collected every two weeks and all other rubbish would be collected once a fortnight.
But councillors were worried that missed collections would mean “piles of waste” building up on people’s doorsteps.
At a meeting of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, they said that a missed bin round would mean a gap of a month between rubbish collections.
They also queried the costings in a report which omitted the “catch up” or “clean up” costs in the event of missed rounds.
The proposed changes come as the government requires all councils to bring in weekly food waste collections by 2023.
Councillor Gary Wilkinson told the committee that bringing in weekly food waste collections had also been a local Labour manifesto pledge – and in the party’s corporate plan for the council.
At Hove Town Hall yesterday (Tuesday 22 June), the committee was told that the proposed changes could significantly improve Brighton and Hove’s recycling rates which were among the worst in the country.
Official statistics show that just a few dozen councils out of more than 300 have worse recycling rates.
The report to councillors indicated that figures are even more concerning for areas with communal bins than for areas with kerbside collections.
But even the higher recycling rate that could be achieved with weekly food waste collections would still fall short of the current national average.
Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth said that moving from weekly to fortnightly collections was “contentious”.
He said: “Residents could see piles of waste on their doorsteps for long periods especially if one collection was missed – therefore a month between collections.
“When there are missed collections, industrial action, rubbish around communal bins, fly-tipping, garden waste bins still not being collected or people even not participating in the waste food collection, I don’t think that Brighton and Hove at this present time could handle a fortnightly service.
“It’s not something we’d be against in principle. We certainly wouldn’t criticise other areas for having it.
“But we don’t think it could work in Brighton and Hove yet until there is just a bit more discipline.
“Missed collections would mean bins not emptied for a month if the collection wasn’t caught up with.
“The cost of a weekly refuse collection is a cause for concern … but it must be balanced against the cost of cleaning up the mess of missed collections which isn’t set out.
“So we would like to see weekly collections kept and a (weekly) food service introduced.”
Councillor Wilkinson welcomed the prospect of weekly food collections and called for a full feasibility study and business case to explore weekly and fortnightly “residual waste collection” alongside weekly food waste rounds.
He said: “I am also pleased that the Conservatives, despite being late to the dinner table, have joined us on this issue.
“Food waste takes up an unreasonable proportion of general household waste.
“And as a council we must provide a service that ensures that waste is collected separately for composting and other positive renewable means rather than allowing it to contribute to the climate crisis we face.
“We welcome a feasibility study and a consultation on this. However, we want to ensure the council undertakes a meaningful consultation and listens to what residents have to say, particularly with regards to collection frequency.
“As a councillor, one of the most recurrent issues in my mailbag from residents is missed bin collections.
“So I do have reservations about reducing household waste collections to just one to take place fortnightly rather than weekly.”
He said that both weekly and fortnightly “residual waste collections” had merit, alongside weekly food waste rounds, and wanted to know more about both options.
Green councillor Amy Heley, who chairs the committee, backed Councillor Wilkinson’s call for a report on both options and this is expected to be prepared in the coming months.
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