NEW restrictions limiting green waste collections to four bags per household per fortnight have now come into force – just as residents are tidying up their gardens for the spring.

In September, Coun Fionuala Foley, 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 needing collecting last summer, due to ideal growing conditions and householders using the kerbside service rather than taking sacks to the Household Recycling Centre.

In a bid to avoid a repeat of last year, when thousands of green bags were left piled up on the streets, Cabinet has approved the new restriction, meaning only four bags of 90 litres maximum can be presented, with householders having to take any surplus to the House-hold Recycling Centre.

Earlier this year, Coun Foley said four bags was sufficient for most households, and the alternative of increasing the service from four to nine rounds throughout the year would solve the problem.

But it would mean half-empty vehicles most of the year and almost double the annual costs to about £1.4m at a time the council is trying to make savings.

She said the council could not predict the periods of high demand, because it depended on the weather, so bringing in extra staff and vehicles for these periods would not produce a reliable service.