Rubbish way for the council to save cash

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A fear of being hit with huge fines has influenced Wigan Council’s push to increase recycling rates, the Post can reveal.

The town hall has recently confirmed it plans to press ahead with controversial changes to bin collection rotas, meaning black waste bins will be collected once every three weeks.

The move will help save £2m - and contribute to keeping council tax rates down - authority bosses have said.

But they also hope it will result in residents recycling more, in a bid to improve rates from its current level of 45 per cent of household waste to 50.

If not, each local authority in the country will have to pay its share of £500k fines, divvied up between those town halls not hitting the limits by 2020.

The level of fine will be determined by how large the authority is and how far away from hitting the target they are, a council spokesman told the Post.

The harsh penalties are part of EU law which bosses expect will be carried over once the UK renegotiates its exit from the union, the council has said.

Lord Smith, leader of Wigan Council, said: “Our proposed changes to the bins focus on delivering our financial savings as well as increasing our recycling rate.

“We will face fines in the future if we don’t recycle as a borough.

“Our research shows that changes to collections like those that we are proposing are having a positive impact in terms of saving money and improving recycling rates.”

The council has previously said recycling rates have improved overall since the Wigan Deal was introduced in 2013 but has seen a fall in recent years.

And research suggests other areas to implement a three week rota have benefitted from better recycling rates.

Each household will be offered the chance to have a “waste audit” conducted by council staff to help them recycle and dispose of waste better.