Tax payers have been having their say on plans for proposed changes to bin collections across Sunderland.
The change will see alternate collections set up - with green bins falling into line with the blue, recycling containers, and a fortnightly pick-up. The move comes because the authority is set to lose a further £13.7million from its Government grant in the next financial year to £44.7million– with a total of £74million to be cut up until 2020.
Some readers believe the plan could spell – or smell – trouble.
We asked you to vote on whether you backed the plans - and currently, more than 1,500 of you are against the move.
Emma Louise Bellerby, posting via our Facebook page, said: “I smell a fly tipping problem.
“Mine’s constantly full so if there’s a bin overflow will attract mice and rats.”
Ann Renney Cooper added; “Well if they are cutting back on green bins we want our council tax slashed and it will cause vermin, that’s another charge from the council.”
Alani Hunt said: “My green needs collecting every week, and sometimes between neighbours, we put our rubbish in each other’s bins if one is too full. “Soon we will be taking our own rubbish to the tip.”
However, many more backed the plans, reflecting the council’s survey.
Kelly Barraclough said: “This won’t be a problem for my family as our green bin is not even half full on bin days.
The Government has not let up, despite what Theresa May said on the steps of Downing Street when she became Prime Minister.Councillor Michael Mordey
“I hope this encourages people to recycle properly but I suspect it will in reality lead to more fly tipping, overflowing bins and rubbish all over our streets
Gemma Porter wrote: “We are a family of three, soon to be four, and our bin is full every single week. “We recycle as much as we can and the bin is normally quite full by the end of the fortnight.”
Louise Green posted: “I’ve halved my green bin waste with the blue recycling bin, but families with bairns should have once a week collections, as there’s more rubbish to collect.”
The final budget figure for the 2017-18 financial year is still to be confirmed.
The budget in this financial year is £655.4million.
Of this, £178million was within its control after the remainder had been ring fenced for statutory costs, such as education and children’s and adult services.
The council is looking at how it will make savings on the money it will have next year.
The bin collection 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.
That arrangement ends next year and the council says it cannot afford to fund the service as it stands.
In addition to dropping the number of green bin collections to once a fortnight, with the blue recycling bins still being emptied once every two weeks, the charge for garden waste in the brown bins is to go up.
The cost is to rise by £2.50 from the current £25 a year.
The council only brought in the levy this year, with more than 30,000 homes signing up.
The charge for bulky waste – with eight items collected per trip – is to also go up to £17.50 from £15.
The council says it is continuing to lobby central government in a bid to get a greater share of funding through the revenue support grant, as it feels it gets a raw deal compared to others, particularly in the south.
Councillor Michael Mordey, cabinet member for city services, said: “The Government has not let up, despite what Theresa May said on the steps of Downing Street when she became Prime Minister.
“It’s still hitting Sunderland hard.
“We have been carrying out a big consultation since 2010 and there has been a steady increase in the respondents’ appetite for alternate collections weekly collections. People will still get a weekly collection. They will just alternate between the two.
“A lot of members of the public should say there should be a reduction in their council tax, but we get just 12.9% of that.
“Of every £1 we get 13p. It’s going to be a difficult few years for the council and for the people.
“We just want to be honest with people.
“The way I explain it to people is that, if you have £100 to live off and then your boss says they’re only going to pay you £55 for that week, could you live the same way?”
He added: “What the council is doing is charging accordingly to what we have.
“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.”
The council says it will issue bigger bins, a 360-litre instead of a 240-litre wheelie container, to larger families on a case by case basis.
Assisted collections, where the refuse teams help those unable to put out their bins, will continue, as will medical waste collections.
As part of cost saving, the council has already cut its workforce by more than 4,000 staff.
Eight out of 10 councils across the country already operate a fortnightly service.