THERE are fears bin collections in Swindon could be reduced to once every three weeks.

Councillors are worried that will be the pay-off for the people of the town after it was announced a food waste trial would be rolled out to every household.

The weekly service will cost Swindon Borough Council about £1.4m extra. But the local authority wants to make sure it doesn’t add any further costs to its waste operation and it is looking at ways to reduce the amount it spends on other services.

A report presented to cabinet by the member for climate change Keith Williams said: “It is proposed that a further review is undertaken to identify and explore a range of options for the collection and disposal of general waste and recyclates.

“The council has already identified a partner to help us with this work and to provide additional capacity to the service, during this time of significant demand and upheaval for the service.”

Coun Williams told councillors: "We are working with a company called methods. It will do some soft market testing for options for the future of the service.”

But some councillors predict this will mean a reduction of bin and recycling collections to once every three or even four weeks.

Scrutiny committee chairman Bob Wright said: "It’s there in the report the council will be looking to cut costs.

“We’ve seen this sort of soft market testing before – the council did it before the introduction of parish councils, which added an average of £100 to every household’s bills.

“I feel the council will be looking at three or four weekly collections.”

That’s something former Conservative councillors Emma Faramarzi and Oliver Donachie, now independent members, would be very much opposed to.

Coun Faramarzi, who represents Priory Vale, said: “We’re right out the end of the rota, and I’ve been contacted by a lot of residents who say we get missed off.

"It’s fine at the start of the week – but if something goes wrong – if there are people off sick, then the knock-on effect is that collections get missed here frequently. Not every week, but it happens quite a lot.

“I very much support the food waste collection, I want to see that happen and we need to throw away less. But three weeks is too long to go without having your bin collected.

"If you’ve got a baby in nappies it’ll fill up very quickly and three weeks isn’t often enough.”

Coun Donachie said: “I fully support the food waste collection. I think that’s a very good thing and want to see it throughout the borough.

“But I think it’s a Trojan Horse for three or four-weekly bin collections, it’s absolutely the precursor to it.

There’ll be market testing and a public consultation and at the bottom will be a question about it and everyone will have lost interest by then."

The collection of food waste across the borough will not start immediately – having been delayed by the coronavirus lockdown.

Until households can be issued with caddies for their leftovers and kitchen scraps and rounds drawn up, the trial which sees food waste collected from 11,000 properties in different areas will continue.

But although Coun Williams stressed members of the cabinet would not be rushing to approve a longer gap between collections, he said the study results shouldn’t be pre-empted.

He added: “Councillors share exactly the same concerns residents have around reducing the frequency of the waste collection service and are not currently considering this as a viable alternative."