Delay to decision over weekly bin collections

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SHEFFIELD Council’s ruling cabinet is set to defer an announcement on whether to switch to fortnightly bin collections until a final budget is approved in almost three months’ time.

A group of councillors has completed a review of rubbish and recycling collections, which recommends an end to weekly emptying of black bins.

The move could save £2.5 million a year.

The review also recommends charging for the collection of garden waste, and changes to recycling - which could include allowing all city residents to choose which items to put in blue bins and boxes.

Currently, only 85,000 addresses are able to choose whether to put paper in the blue bin rather than box - leaving most households’ blue boxes heavy with paper and cardboard.

The findings of the review are due to be presented to the council’s cabinet on Wednesday but no particular decision has been recommended to councillors.

Policy officer Emily Standbrook said in her report: “It is recommended the key findings of the review are used to inform decisions on household waste collection services, as part of the business planning process for 2012/13 and beyond.”

The council has not revealed if weekly bin collections are among proposed cuts, although a provisional list of budget savings was drawn up behind closed doors before Christmas.

Ruling Labour members said a decision on fortnightly bin collections rests on clarification of an offer from the Government about funding. To receive the money, councils must commit to weekly bin collections for five years.

But the council says it wants to know if the cash is available for the whole period - otherwise the council would still have to stump up some of the cost.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the opposition Lib Dem group, said: “Labour promised to inform residents of their decision by November, so it beggars belief they have bottled it a second time.”

But Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for environment, said: “The report highlighted many issues that are important for local people and, clearly, all the issues mentioned in the consultation indicating people’s preferences for waste collection services will have to be balanced against the challenging budget pressures that the council faces.”