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Moray councillors delay decision to cut recycling collections

By Lorna Thompson

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MORAY Council has delayed a decision on making three-weekly recycling bin collections permanent to save cash.

Pick-ups of paper, cans, plastic and glass were reduced from fortnightly to every three weeks in April following a three-week suspension of all collections in the early days of the pandemic last year.

The proposal – which would generate an annual budget saving of £129,000 – was discussed by councillors at a meeting yesterday. They voted by 16 to 10 to delay any decision until next month.

They heard the change to collection frequency would mean the service would require three less staff and one less refuse vehicle.

At the meeting, councillors were told that workers had raised health and safety concerns. They backed deferring any decision to allow further discussions with staff.

Employees' concerns included having to run on rounds just to complete them on schedule.

Council leader Graham Leadbitter changed his position from initially backing the change to proposing the delay after the health and safety issues were raised by Councillor John Divers (Labour, Elgin City South).

The Conservative group on the council called for the cut in bin collections to be thrown out completely.

Moray councillors voted yesterday to delay a decision on making three-weekly recycling collections permanent. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Moray councillors voted yesterday to delay a decision on making three-weekly recycling collections permanent. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

A report by the council's chief financial officer had also put forward an increase in the annual charge for brown bin permits, for disposing of green waste, from £40 to £41, to bring in an extra £88,000 a year.

The brown bin annual permit charge was increased by £4 in April last year, to £40.

However, councillors yesterday decided to maintain the current £40 charge for the next year.

Councillor George Alexander (Independent, Forres) pointed out that there was an uplift of 1200 brown bin permits at the start of last year.

He added: "I think putting this up to £41 would make the public suspect that we're using this as a milch cow and if we do that we may find that gardeners decide to revert to mulching rather than feeding this milch cow.

"So I would strongly recommend we leave it at £40 and we may well have the chance of hanging on to these 1200 extra people who took out the permits."

The report noted that the three-weekly cycle had caused problems for some households, though larger blue and purple recycling bins, or additional bins, can be supplied to help make up for the reduction in frequency of collection.

Finance chiefs at the council say savings of £3.2 million need to be made to balance the books for 2021-22.

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