THE Labour Group has launched an inquiry into Tory plans to end weekly non-recyclable waste collections.

North Swindon MP Michael Wills and Mark Dempsey, a waste expert and Labour candidate for Haydon Wick at next week's local elections, have started surveying residents over fears that plans for a fortnightly rubbish collection could lead to an epidemic of flies and rats in the town.

The Swindon Labour Group also suggest that scrapping the weekly collection could lead to people fly- tipping and burning their waste.

Mr Wills and Mr Dempsey began their survey over the weekend and plan to continue to gauge opinion on the refuse collection plans in the coming weeks.

Mr Wills said of the residents' survey: "It went very well. We're doing it because people are very worried and upset about the proposals.

"The Conservative council has a poor record on recycling.

"There is a confusing mess of different recycling services, leaving many people so puzzled - they do not know what they can recycle.

"The civic amenity site is too small with local businesses complaining that the queues of vehicles are harming their businesses.

"Now we are faced with proposals to stop weekly collections and collect non-recyclable household waste just once a fortnight.

"Labour is deeply concerned that Swindon residents have not been properly informed about these changes, and as a result they could backfire.

"We're asking Swindon residents to tell us what they think these changes will mean for them."

Mr Dempsey, 31, who is a qualified waste specialist, said: "We are very worried that the Tories plans could be a disaster.

"Evidence from other parts of the country indicates that ending weekly waste collections can lead to significant increase in flies and rats.

"In places such as Scunthorpe there have been massive public protests. Recycling is really important for the environment.

"Under Labour the national recycling rate has quadrupled but the way the Tory council is handling these changes is very poor and there is real danger that the Tories will turn people off recycling in Swindon."

Swindon Council's policy change to a once-a-fortnight refuse collection has angered some residents in the town.

To reduce landfill the council wants to increase recycling by making collections every two weeks as weekly collections of non-recyclables would increase council tax and add more vehicles to the roads.

Swindon Council has hit back at Michael Wills' involvement, saying it is a public relations exercise before the local elections.

Coun David Wren, cabinet member for the local environment, said: "I am totally astounded that Michael Wills is undermining a policy that his own Government is supporting.

"Defra is encouraging every council to minimise landfill.

"Weekly collections of non-recyclables would increase council tax and add more vehicles to our roads, thus increasing air pollution. Weekly collections of side-waste would also discourage recycling and increase landfill.

"Like most politicians I am knocking on doors and the overwhelming response I have received from residents is that they cannot wait for the new recycling service to start.

"We will be introducing a weekly recycling collection this July and full details will be sent to every household in the borough this June.

"Everyone who participates fully in the scheme will see their side-waste - the material that cannot be recycled - reduced to a minimum, so there is no need to collect it weekly."