A cut in bin collections in Moray to save cash has been delayed amid concerns staff are already having to run to complete rounds in time.
Proposals to reduce recycling pick-ups from every two weeks to every three weeks were tabled to save nearly £130,000 as part of budget cuts.
However, yesterday Moray councillors delayed making a decision about changing bin collections after it emerged health and safety issues had been raised by the workforce.
Talks with staff to address reduced bin collections concerns
Senior officials backed the deferral to allow discussions to take place with employees over the coming weeks.
It is understood concerns have been raised by staff that some collection rounds are already too long – causing some to run to complete them in time.
Councillors unanimously praised the commitment of teams to ensure bin collections have continued to function during the pandemic.
Council leader Graham Leadbitter had initially backed the reduction to three-weekly collections – but then proposed delaying a decision to next month after Elgin City South councillor John Divers highlighted the safety concerns.
Mr Leadbitter said: “I appreciate there is a workforce issue. It makes sense to defer making a decision until February to allow meetings to take place to hopefully resolve that.”
The proposed changes, which would not affect green general waste collections, would mean collections of blue paper bins and pink metal and plastic bins would switch to every three weeks from March.
Conservatives call for bin collections cut to be scrapped completely
A supply of 350 larger sizes of the bins are expected to be made available for residents expecting to struggle to fit their recycling inside the existing bins.
Council officials estimate the switch would mean one less vehicle being needed to complete rounds.
Opposition Conservative councillors opposed the delayed decision, instead calling for the potential bin collections in Moray reduction to be thrown out.
Elgin City North councillor Frank Brown said: “In my ward there is already an issue with people having space to keep their bins and would really struggle with the larger ones.
“Older people may also struggle with the larger bins too.
“There is also a perception with Moray Council that you pay more and get less. It’s a real issue and we have to be aware of that.”
Councillors voted by 16 to 10 to delay making a decision about the reduced recycling collections over rejecting the changes completely.
Permit for garden bin collections in Moray to remain £40
Meanwhile, the cost of brown bin garden waste permits will remain frozen at £40 for next year.
Financial officers had proposed a £1 increase in the fee, explaining it could generate an extra £88,000 towards the savings target of £3.2million.
However, councillors unanimously agreed to a price freeze in the hope it would encourage more to sign up for the fortnightly collections.
Forres councillor George Alexander, who leads a group of independent members, said: “There was an uplift of 1,200 permits in March last year, probably because people couldn’t get to the tip themselves because they were closed.
“I think putting this up in price the public might think we are using it as a cash cow and they may choose other options instead of feeding this cow.
“If we keep it at £40 then I feel we have a chance of keeping these 1,200 who may decide it’s not worth the effort of going to the dump themselves.”