by Henry James (July 2018)

WEST Lancs Council’s decision to stop charging residents £25 for a blue wheelie bin to collect glass, cans and plastic bottles has been welcomed by Conservative and Our West Lancashire Councillors who have labelled it a U-turn by the ruling Labour group.

The council has said that residents who currently have a blue box who are using other containers such as bags or storage boxes or have had a blue box in the past for glass, cans and plastic bottles, can request a free blue bin if ordered by October 31.

From November 1, any blue bins requested to replace a blue box will incur a charge.

Any resident who has already ordered and paid for a blue bin to replace a blue box since March 12 will receive a full refund. These residents are known to the council and will receive a letter shortly to inform them of their refund and how the money will be refunded back into their accounts.

The Conservative group on the council have claimed victory for the decision to scrap the charge and said: “We have mounted a concerted campaign against Labour’s unfair introduction of the £25 charge for blue wheelie bins to those residents who had previously opted to continue to use blue boxes and bags.”

Meanwhile Our West Lancashire’s Councillor Adrian Owens claimed he had first raised the matter and called the announcement a “U-turn.”

Heidi McDougall, director of leisure and environment at West Lancs Council said: “A lot of the blue boxes have disappeared and residents are utilising various types of containers to present their waste causing operational and health and safety issues. Hopefully the offer of free bins will help these residents make the switch before the end of October and welcome a more efficient service.”

The council says it is also aware from a survey undertaken that some residents have retained their blue box when blue bins were introduced and are using it for their cardboard and paper recycling. Again, these residents will be written to by the end of July.

If people do not receive a letter they can request a free green bin, which is now needed for cardboard and paper recycling, by October 31. Customers who place their orders after this date, need a replacement bin or new properties will need to pay £25 in line with the council’s charging policy.

Councillor David Westley, Conservative group leader, said: “I am delighted that Labour have finally seen sense. Labour had announced the council intended to stop the collection of recyclables from blue boxes and blue bins and was forcing residents to pay a £25 charge for a blue wheelie bin.

“This was contrary to the council’s previous policy and unfair. Labour had allowed the recent changes to be slipped in under delegated authority without any democratic debate on what was a clear change in policy.”

Cllr. Owens added: “With the number of questions mounting and the damaging media coverage, the council leader made a U-turn. Our West Lancashire were delighted that the council meeting ratified this policy reversal last week. Now, residents who kept a blue box in 2013 when blue bins were introduced will be treated equitably and receive a blue bin without charge up until the end of October.”

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