COMMUNITY and gardeners’ groups are questioning the workability of Swindon Council’s plan to limit green waste collections to four bags a household a fortnight, The move is an attempt to prevent a repeat of last year’s collection delays.
In September Coun Fionuala Foley, the cabinet member for Streetsmart and corporate services, apologised to the public after contractor Swindon Commercial Services Ltd struggled to clear a week-long backlog, which filled up its storage capacity at Waterside Park and an off-site storage facility.
The council said there had been a massive increase in the volume of garden waste collected last summer, due to ideal growing conditions and householders using the kerbside service rather than taking sacks to the Household Recycling Centre.
Today, the cabinet will be asked to impose a new restriction from April, meaning only four bags of 90 litres each can be put out each fortnight.
Householders will have to take any surplus to the Household Recycling Centre.
The council says where excessive amounts of waste are put out the bags will be left on the street and residents will be written to. Enforcement action taken for repeat offences.
However, community groups have pointed out some people will arrange with neighbours to circumvent the quota – or just fly-tip the excess waste.
Terry Hunt, the chairman of Rodbourne Cheney Residents’ Association, said: “If I had six bags and my neighbour had none, I would put four outside my house and two outside his. “That’s what’s going to happen.
“And I think the reason they got in a state last year is because they didn’t plan for it. “I think it’s a bad idea to limit people, it’s just a matter of planning for it better. On bank holiday weekends they know they’re going to need more collections.
“The fly-tipping will be a problem. People will take a bag and leave it around the corner or at Cheney Manor shops.”
John Brownlee, the chairman of Swindon Walcot and Parks Community Group, said: “We compost everything, but if your house has five bags and next door has only got three, it stands to reason to put the fifth one with the other ones next door, so the neighbours work together. “It’s not going to help reduce the amount of waste that’s collected.”
And Don Reeve, the treasurer of Swindon Allotments and Leisure Gardens Association, said: “I always take my own stuff to the tip and don’t put any bags out. “If my next door neighbour said ‘I have got five to six bags here, can you put some outside your house?’ I couldn’t very well say no to the bloke.
“So I’m not sure they’re going to realise their aim of reducing the workload.” He also feared people would fly-tip rather than get their car dirty.
Coun Foley admitted earlier this week there might be difficulties in telling which bags were linked to which house, adding: “There will be a leaflet campaign going to houses and we’re hoping people will be responsible.”
She said four bags was sufficient for most households, and she claimed the council could not predict the periods of high demand, because it depended on the weather, so bringing in extra staff and vehicles would not produce a reliable service.