Pendle residents could soon have to wait four weeks to see their recycling bins emptied as Pendle Council looks to fill a £760,000 black hole in its finances.
Council leader Coun. Mohammed Iqbal indicated that was the preferred option if his minority Labour-Lib Dem administration can seek agreement with other parties, including the single British National Party councillor, following the end of a Lancashire County Council subsidy.
It would mean residents seeing their brown bin, as well as paper/cardboard bins emptied every four weeks rather than the current fortnightly collection.
But the move has been met with fierce opposition from Pendle’s Tory group.
Tory leader Coun. Joe Cooney accused his Labour rivals of not “thinking outside the box” in grappling with the council’s dwindling resources and said there was no way they would back the proposal.
Coun. Cooney said: “We have known for a number of years that the county council subsidy would end, but there has been no preparation work from the Labour administration.
“We all know there is less money for councils to work with, but we should be looking to forge partnerships with our neighbouring authorities or work with private partners.”
Coun. Cooney also proposed the drastic step of cutting the number of councillors in a bid to save the council money.
He added: “The council needs a complete restructure but the current administration isn’t prepared to do that.
“I would be prepared to cut the number of councillors by as much as half, there are too many of us.
“We will not be supporting the option to have a four-weekly recycling collection, so Labour will have to do some kind of deal with the Lib Dems and the BNP if that’s what they want.”
Coun. Iqbal, however, poured scorn on his Tory rival’s claims and said the council would consult with the public on the issue, delaying a decision until December.
He said: “The kind of cuts we are experiencing are not sustainable.
“The reason we have proposed this is because of the massive loss of the £760,000 a year subsidy from the county council.
“Coun. Cooney wants to line the pockets of private companies. Indeed, a report into privatising the service would cost us £80,000 and then there is no guarantee it would save money.
“Another option would be to have a three-weekly residual waste collection, which we did not want.
“Coun. Cooney does make a valid point about the number of councillors, though, but the problem is that the Boundary Commission has indicated this could take as long as three years.
“We appreciate this is an important decision and so we have decided to extend the public consultation until December. Perhaps Coun. Cooney can ask the Government to fill this £700,000 black hole.”
Lib Dem Coun. David Whipp said the waste collection changes were just one part of an overall savings target of well over £1m for the next financial year to meet the Government cuts requirement.
He said: “The proposed change is because the Conservative run county council is cutting a payment of over three quarters of a million pounds to Pendle Council towards the cost of recycling collections.
“Pendle is aiming to find savings of some £300,000 to help offset the county council cut.
“This is all on top of Government cuts which mean Pendle Council has to find over £3m of savings in the next three years as the government grant is cut to zero.”