FLINTSHIRE Council leaders will decide whether to stick with the decision to trial a three-weekly bin collection in a part of the county when it meets on Thursday.
Last month the ruling cabinet opted for the controversial pilot as the authority had missed recent Welsh Government recycling targets leaving the council open to being landed with a six-figure fine.
Mention of the Welsh Government’s infraction fines is included as a risk in the papers for the authority’s 2023/24 budget setting which also takes place on Thursday. A council tax increase of 3.99 per cent is expected to be set at a crunch meeting of the full council in the afternoon following the morning cabinet meeting.
With the recycling target set at 70 per cent for 2024-25, and Flintshire having slipped back to 60 per cent from a high of 69 per cent pre-pandemic, councillors explored a number of options including reducing the size of the black bin to reducing the frequency of collections.
The cabinet chose to trial three-weekly collections in one area of the county along with increasing efforts to educate and communicate with residents about recycling.
Speaking at that meeting, Lead member for Streetscene, Llanfynydd Cllr Dave Hughes (Lab) said: “Carrying on the way we were going, we were never going to meet the targets.
“Running a pilot in a small area may actually give us the blueprint for how we achieve that.
“Education is crucial to how we try and get these targets. Better to run a small pilot than do it all in one go. We know the tonnages we’re getting from different rounds so we pick one of those and we see with a concerted effort how much we can lower that target.”
And at the same meeting the leader of the council, Flint Castle Cllr Ian Roberts (Lab) confirmed a reduction in collections would not lead to a reduction in council tax.
He said: “You may have seen some of the comments on social media asking ‘are we going to get a reduction if we’re getting a reduction in service’ – well no, because there is a potential reduction in service because recycling isn’t being done.
“It certainly isn’t being done as it was at one point when we were doing particularly well, so that possible infraction fine this year will become a considerable sum of money.”
But the decision was swiftly called-in by half-a-dozen opposition councillors led by Independent group leader Connah’s Quay Central Cllr Bernie Attridge.
This led to a pause in rolling-out of the pilot, and it is not yet known in which area of the county it will take place.
Reasons given for the call-in were; the unknown cost of running the pilot, concern that the data collected from it could ‘lack integrity’ and a view that the council had come close to achieving 70 per cent recycling three years ago without changing the frequency of collections.
At the call-in meeting of the environment scrutiny committee which was held at the start of this month, councillors received a presentation from the chief officer for Streetscene and aired their views on the proposals.
Ultimately the committee opted to follow the recommendations of Buckley Pentrobin Cllr Mike Peers (Ind) who suggested instructing the cabinet to review the decision, taking on board the concerns about the three-weekly collection pilot.
The cabinet will now review that decision when it meets on Thursday (February 23).