County council ‘can’t force move to fortnightly bin collections’

Arun District Council currently operates a weekly general household waste collection service
Arun District Council currently operates a weekly general household waste collection service

Introducing fortnightly household bin collections cannot be forced on Arun despite proposals appearing to encourage such a move, according to West Sussex County Council.

The local authority is looking to save £1.2m over the next two years by encouraging district and boroughs to improve recycling rates and waste diversion.

One option would be to introduce a separate collection for food waste and absorbent hygiene products on a weekly basis, but WSCC claims this would only be economical if the frequency of general collections was reduced at the same time.

This week Arun District Council said it was contractually committed to a weekly refuse service, but would work with partners across West Sussex to assess all options for future service delivery.

Last week James Walsh, leader of the Lib Dem group at WSCC, described how they the county council would face a ‘battle royal’ if it tried to impose solutions on district and boroughs.

In response Deborah Urquhart, cabinet member for the environment at WSCC, said: “We need to take action and we need to show leadership and that leadership could well lead to less frequent collections which are proven to increase recycling rates in general.”

But she added: “I want to make it absolutely clear that we cannot force any democratically elected authority to do anything they do not wish to do, but why I’m proposing this is because our recycling performance compared to others is absolutely abysmal and if we can improve our performance we will make savings.

“It’s not just about collection costs its about processing and subsequent disposal costs that we have to take into account.”

She described how West Sussex’s recycling rate for 2015/16 was just 42 per cent, which was much lower than areas with separate food and less frequent general waste collections.

David Barling, the previous cabinet member responsible for the environment, said: “Several members of the opposition spoke with horror about two-weekly waste collections.

“As you know recycling is one of my topics because I like to think of our side as the real greens around.

“You can laugh because you don’t deal with it, but the fact of the matter is that up and down this country councils of every political complexion have gone over to two-weekly collections.

“What is the net result of that? The net result of that unquestionable has been that recycling has increased.

“That is a simple fact and that is what we are aiming to do on this side.”

A spokesman for Arun District Council said: “Arun District Council is contractually committed to a weekly refuse service.

“However the council recognises the importance of both minimising residual waste and maximising recycling.

“The council will be working with its partners across the West Sussex Waste Partnership to assess all options for future service delivery and will consider the viability of these options accordingly.”