Another council moves to three-weekly rubbish collection

Bins of comingled recycling wait on curbside for pickup.
Bins of comingled recycling wait on curbside for pickup.

Oldham Council has become the latest to cut bin collections to once every three weeks, raising fears of rats and other vermin.

Following the lead of several other Greater Manchester councils, it is reducing the collection of general waste to try and save £1.5 million a year in landfill costs.

"Due to government funding cuts over the last few years Oldham Council has had to change the way our frontline services work. These changes to our waste collection service are the latest but we are confident they will continue to provide value for money," says councillor Barbara Brownridge, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and co-operatives.

"Over the next two years the council needs to make £37 million worth of savings. Making these changes will help avoid further costs putting even more pressure on the council's budget. Doing nothing is not an option."

Elsewhere in Manchester, general waste bins are set to get smaller, from their current capacity of 240 litres down to just 140. Manchester Council, is believed to have spent £1.8 million on its first batch of bins, but says the move could save £2.4 million a year.

The roll-out is expected to start next month, starting with student areas of the city. The changeover should be finished in three months.

The latest move means that Wigan is now the only council in the region to still have fortnightly collections of standard-sized general waste bins.

Five councils around the country have already introduced three-weekly collections. And, researchers for the BBC's Tonight programme found earlier this month, nearly two-thirds of UK homes now have bins collected every fortnight - in stark contradiction to the Conservatives' election promise to reinstate weekly collections across the country.

Only 6% of councils actually do so.

Residents worry that reducing the frequency of bin collections could provide a boost for rats and other vermin - and bin men themselves agree. Recently, they made a Freedom of Information request to Bury Council which revealed that complaints about vermin rose more than 18% after three-weekly collections were introduced.

However, Brownridge claims that this shouldn't be a problem if residents are careful about recycling, as food waste will be collected weekly.

"We'd like to remind residents that using their weekly collections for food waste and garden waste will eliminate the potential for bad smells and flies, particularly during warmer weather," she says.

Travellers leave mountain of rubbish in Rainham
Travellers leave mountain of rubbish in Rainham