Residents should be fully consulted before fortnightly bin collections are introduced across the Horsham district, Labour members have urged.
The move is expected to save Horsham District Council £730,000 a year at the same time as bringing in a new fleet of rear-loading bin lorries, which is set to save the authority another £270,000 a year.
The Tory administration has pointed to the need to increase household recycling rates to 50 per cent by 2020.
But Horsham Labour Party members have launched a campaign opposing the changes and presented a petition with more than 1,200 signatures to the council last Thursday (February 16).
The Labour delegation met with HDC deputy leader Jonathan Chowen and Roy Cornell, cabinet member for waste, recycling and cleansing, to discuss residents’ concerns.
David Hide, chair of the Horsham Labour Party, said: “Having listened to the councillors’ explanation of the service they intend to provide, we do not believe that they have considered the needs of those people who are calling for the weekly service to be retained.
He thanked the councillors for their time, but explained residents’ annoyance since several Tories included a pledge to maintain weekly bin collections in their 2015 election literature.
He said: “On behalf of the signatories of the petition, we request that consultation now takes place and that the council makes every attempt to deliver the service residents are paying for, in a way that addresses the matters raised, these range from public health concerns to questions about the level of service council tax payers are entitled to expect for their money.”
A public consultation hat not been held because leader Ray Dawe said that all district councillors had been fully consulted about the proposed changes.
Carol Hayton, Horsham Labour Party’s campaign organiser, argued that support for the petition clearly indicated that the consultation was not extensive enough with many residents unaware of the changes.
The changes are not due to come in until spring 2018 allowing time to procure a new fleet of rear-loading bin lorries, while a Government grant to maintain weekly collections ends in late 2017.
During last week’s Full Council meeting, Brian Donnelly, cabinet member for finance and assets, said: “The move to alternative weekly household waste collections has been well received by quite a lot of people but other people are not so happy.”
He explained that the current side-loading bin lorries, which they had originally hoped could last until 2020 are ‘caput’. He added: “The vehicles are in quite a bad state. They are hammered.”
Ray Chapman, Horsham Labour Party Secretary, said: “In the meeting we were told that the main reason for bringing in the changes before the next council elections was that the existing Acorn Recycling Scheme trucks were in such bad repair.
“Apparently, it costs so much money to keep them on the road that they need to replace them as soon as possible.
“Only a few years ago the Acorn system was brought in with no public consultation and heralded as a great innovation that would bring great benefits for Horsham residents.
“This costly experiment serves as a perfect example of what happens when the council only talks to itself and fails to engage constructively with the community to deliver better outcomes for all residents.”
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