Green bin collections in Sunderland could be halved under cash-saving plans

General waste - stored in green bins - is likely to be collected one a fortnight across Sunderland starting in April.
General waste - stored in green bins - is likely to be collected one a fortnight across Sunderland starting in April.
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Household waste collections are to be cut down to once a fortnight as city leaders look to make savings once again.

As it stands, homes have their green-coloured everyday waste collected each week, with the blue recycling containers emptied every fortnight.

But come April, that looks set to change as Sunderland City Council look to save £750,000 a year on reducing the service.

More than 120,000 city households will receive more details in the New Year, including a letter outlining changes in their area.

Changes will bring Sunderland into line with the majority of councils across the country - eight out of 10 - that no longer offer a weekly refuse collection.

The council received a ‘Pickles grant’ of £4,722,000 in 2012 towards maintaining weekly collections.

Councillor Michael Mordey.

Councillor Michael Mordey.

It ends next year.

Councillor Michael Mordey, cabinet member for ciy services, said: “The council has been receiving a Government grant to maintain weekly refuse collections.
“That grant comes to end in 2017 and because of the budget pressures and the Government’s austerity programme, the council can no longer afford to offer weekly refuse collections.

“The council has looked at the case for alternate weekly collections and has begun planning to introduce this as a service change in April 2017.

“The vast majority of councils across the country no longer offer a weekly refuse service.

Sunderland is coming into line with how refuse and recycling collections work in the rest of the country.

Councillor Michael Mordey

“Sunderland is coming into line with how refuse and recycling collections work in the rest of the country.

“In recent budget consultation, the council has been explaining its position and its possible planning for alternate collections.

“People have been understanding of the need and reasons for change and one of the most frequent consultation suggestions to reduce spending is to change to alternate collections.

“Our operational evidence shows that there is more than sufficient bin capacity for most households if they use the blue bin properly.

“As part of the planning, there should also be an upturn in recycling rates that can help reduce waste disposal costs.”

No significant job losses are expected because of the changes.

The council is also planning to change its bulky waste and brown - or composting - service.

Since the charges for collecting up to eight items per visit were introduced in 2013, there has been no increase in charges.

Come the new financial year, an increase of £2.50 is being proposed to meet the cost of operating the service and ensure that it is not a burden on other services.

This would bring the cost of collecting eight bulky items to £17.50.

The council is also looking at a ‘next day’ collection service to tackle the ‘white van man’ phenomena which has arisen via social media and is reviewing and updating its enforcement of fly-tipping.

It is also looking at an increase of £2.50 for the brown bin service, which is for composting and garden waste collection, up from £25.

More than 30,000 households signed up for the charge last year when it was introduced.

Coun Mordey said: “The charge still represents good value for money as other neighbouring authorities have higher charges.
“The service is a non-statutory one, the council has not been legally obliged to provide it.

“Therefore it has not been part of the Council Tax.
“It had previously been free, and the council can no longer offer it as a non-charge service.

“As mentioned, the council’s resources are concentrating on its statutory services because of the continued and sustained reductions to its budgets as part of the Government’s austerity programme.”

The council is looking at saving a further £74million from its budget in the run-up to 2020.

The council warned in October that it needed to save this additional amount by 2020 on top of the £250million it has already had to save since 2010 as a result of the Government’s austerity programme.