Three or four weekly general waste bin collections could be introduced across West Dunbartonshire, as the council attempts to close an £18million budget black hole.
It was claimed that plans could already be in place for the changes, with the SNP’s Jonathan McColl saying the Labour administration has “instructed management to bring forward proposals for three or four weekly green bin collections, meaning that rubbish will pile up and fly-tipping will inevitably increase”.
General waste is currently collected fortnightly.
When we put this to leader of WDC, Labour’s Martin Rooney, he refused to rule out changes, saying: “These are extremely difficult financial times and the previous SNP administration has, without doubt, left West Dunbartonshire totally unprepared for the challenges ahead.”
Councillor Rooney said that all options to close the budget gap would have to be considered, as he hit out at the SNP.
Councillor Rooney said: “The SNP council squandered all of the council’s free reserves and left West Dunbartonshire Council with a £13.8m budget deficit when they set their budget in March this year.
“In addition they hadn’t properly accounted for increasing energy costs and had only set aside two percent for a pay rise.
“As a result of SNP irresponsible mismanagement, the budget gap had increased to a whopping £18.3m by the end of summer.
“Furthermore, the SNP Scottish Government had already signalled that Scottish councils would see their budget decrease by seven percent in real terms over the next three years.
“These are extremely difficult financial times and the previous SNP administration has without doubt left West Dunbartonshire totally unprepared for the challenges ahead.
“The council is developing savings options to close the budget gap left by the SNP.
“Given the scale of the budget gap, the council is not in a position to rule out any savings options at this point.
“The savings options will be presented to all elected members for decision.”
The issue was discussed at a meeting of WDC’s infrastructure, regeneration and economic development (IRED) committee in August, where an SNP motion, introduced by Lomond member Jonathan McColl called for a guarantee that collections wouldn’t be cut.
Councillor McColl’s motion read: “This is a ‘savings option’ that has repeatedly been brought to council by officers and has been repeatedly rejected by both the SNP and Labour.”
He went on to ask members to agree it was an “inappropriate proposal” that “should not feature in any proposals arising from the various waste services reviews”.
It was seconded by Dumbarton SNP councillor Chris Pollock, who added: “This has been tried in other council areas and, I believe, has been deeply unpopular with residents.”
Monthly bin collections have proved controversial elsewhere, including in neighbouring Stirling Council – where almost 6,000 people signed a petition demanding a rethink.
IRED committee chair, Labour Councillor David McBride, admitted he was opposed to the plans despite voting against Councillor McColl’s motion.
Speaking in August he said: “This would definitely be something that I would be opposing quite considerably because I don’t think that it would be welcomed by residents.
“However we’re still waiting to see savings options coming up for the budget gap. I don’t think we’ve ever had a gap so large.
“I appreciate that and totally understand that (it will be unpopular). However, £15m worth of cuts in West Dunbartonshire will be equally unpopular, so we’ll all have a job on our hands over the coming months.”
Hitting out after the meeting, Councillor McColl said: “Labour’s decision at committee confirms what we feared; their comforting words mean nothing and their actions will continue to harm local services that people rely on.”