Flintshire councillors have backed plans not to reduce the frequency of bin collections, but to take tougher action against people who fail to recycle instead.
Flintshire Council previously launched a consultation to gauge public opinion on changing from fortnightly general waste collections to either three or four weekly.
The local authority also asked residents whether they would support stronger enforcement against those who put recyclable items in their black bins in a bid to boost recycling rates.
It received around 8,000 responses to the survey with 60 per cent opposed to to any reduction in collections, but the same margin did endorse a stricter stance on non-recycling.
It means repeat offenders could now face £75 fines after officers said some residents who recycle were becoming frustrated.
Discussing the proposals at an environment scrutiny committee meeting held today, regulatory services manager Ruth Cartwright said: “Residents who do recycle and recycle every week are really unhappy with their neighbours that don’t recycle.
“We had addresses handed to us, with people saying: ‘Can you please go and speak to them?’ because they were so passionate about recycling.
“With this, it would be only those that do not recycle who would be accountable for their actions.
“It would not impact anyone that does recycle and has helped us achieve the success we have had so far.”
The council stressed its main focus would be on educating people on what they can recycle rather than fining them.
Where penalties are issued, it said a three step process would be used where first time offenders receive a warning letter before being put on a monitoring list if they continue not to recycle.
It added a fine would only be handed out when all other options have been exhausted.
Most councillors present at the meeting said they supported the plans and praised the move to keep fortnightly collections Shotton west representative Sean Bibby said: “I’m very pleased with the approach we’re taking in retaining the fortnightly bin collections.
“It’s very disappointing that some of our neighbours have gone down that route and it’s caused a lot of issues.
“I think we can be proud here in Flintshire that we’re retaining that.”
Some concerns were raised over whether elderly or disabled residents who are unable to recycle could be punished unfairly.
There has also been criticism of the council’s plans to spend £70,000 on employing two new officers to hand out fines.
But reassurances were provided that the officers would look at individual cases sensitively.
Officers said the costs outlined also included the price of the vehicles they would travel in as well as other overheads.
Whitford councillor Chris Dolphin said he supported the fines being given out.
Referring to the survey results, he said: “Who are these 8.9 per cent of people who don’t think we have to do anything with recycling?
“It’s a significant number, they are a problem and they need dealing with.
“I’m really pleased with this council and its forward thinking approach.”
At the end of the meeting councillors supported the recommendation to stick to fortnightly bin collections, although that position will be reviewed again in a year’s time.
They also backed the move to enforce against non-reycling and the proposals will now go to a meeting of the authority’s ruling Labour cabinet for final approval next week.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).