Havering Council leaders refused to commit to keeping weekly bin collections - but described a debate on the service's future as “premature”. 

The council has proposed moving to an alternate-weekly system, with recycling taken one week and waste for landfill the next, as part of a budget consultation as it tries to plug a projected £70 million hole in its finances over the next four years

It also suggests providing wheelie bins and food waste containers to households, with officials estimating potential savings of £650,000 over the four-year period. 

At last night’s full council meeting (November 23), a Conservative motion presented by Cllr David Taylor, called on the cabinet to “commit to retaining a weekly bin collection service, with plans for containerisation to be put to the public in a fully-costed consultation”. 

In his opening speech, Cllr Taylor referred to the proposal as an “uncosted fantasy”, suggesting the addition of wheelie bins for each household would take 12 years to break even. 

“The reality is our neighbourhoods will get messier, our residents will suffer, and our bank balance will hardly be the better for it,” he said. 

East Havering Residents’ Group councillor Brian Eagling made the case specifically for older people living in the borough, telling members “some of these wheelie bins will be taller than the elderly residents”. 

Several members of the Havering Residents Association (HRA) and Labour coalition advocated for the proposed changes, both in terms of alleged savings but also its hoped-for environmental impact. 

Cllr Barry Mugglestone, cabinet member for environment, gave the example of Bexley, which saw a reduction in overall waste and no noticeable increase in fly-tipping after switching to a similar system.

With the consultation results yet to be collated, Cllr Mugglestone said the cabinet “will do right by the residents of this borough”. 

Labour leader Cllr Keith Darvill meanwhile referred to the debate as “premature”, and council leader Cllr Ray Morgon described the proposal as “very much a work-in-progress". 

“Whether we actually go down that line is yet to be decided,” he added. 

Following the debate, a HRA amendment stating the administration will “carefully consider” responses from residents and changes to the council’s financial position, plus any changes from the environment bill, was passed by 31 to 16, with one abstention. 

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