‘Should fortnightly bin scheme in Luton have coincided with food waste collections?’

The bins at the Berkeley Path flats
The bins at the Berkeley Path flats

Luton councillors engaged in a fierce debate about bin changes in the town after a petition of over 1,400 signatures was submitted.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the full council, plans were revealed for food waste to be incinerated at Baldock instead of being buried in the ground - saving £45 per tonne of waste.

But the food waste collections will not begin until next year, with a trial in Barnfield and Saints wards – prompting a backlash from the Liberal Democrat opposition group.

Leader of the Lib Dems on the council, Cllr David Franks said: “The food waste collection should have been introduced at the same time as you went fortnightly on the black bins.

“It would have considerably reduced the problems of rodents, flies and smell.”

Fellow Lib Dem Cllr Peter Chapman added: “It’s been been introduced without any thought. Central Beds have a weekly food collection as well. They haven’t done it in isolation.”

Despite the criticism, the council’s ruling Labour group insisted that the changes has been throughly planned.

Cllr Tom Shaw told the meeting that weekly food waste collections had been due in April or May, but were brought forward to February thanks to effective savings.

He explained that the two wards chosen for the food waste collections – Barnfield and Saints – represented the best and worst wards for recycling.

Cllr Shaw said: “Nobody can say it wasn’t planned that we were introducing food waste collections.

“As more savings are achieved... we will concentrate on a good ward and a bad ward every couple of months.”

The controversial change to emptying bins fortnightly began last month, after the Labour group sought to make savings on its household waste costs.

Its introduction was quickly followed by a petition from four Luton mosques to revert to weekly bin collections.

Petition organiser Akbar Dad Khan told councillors: “Black rubbish bags lying everywhere does not represent a pleasant scene on the streets of Luton, especially in the densely populated wards of Biscot, Dallow, Saints, Challney and the town centre.”

Conservative Cllr Michael Garrett added: “This scheme of fortnightly bin collections may work in Central Bedfordshire and in Bedford, but it won’t work in Luton.

“The situation in the town is different. We’ve already seen rats in High Town. The mess up there at the moment is absolutely disgusting.”

Two amendments submitted by the Liberal Democrats were defeated by 27 votes to 14.

Labour Lewsey Cllr Jacqui Burnett referred to the BBC’s The Blue Planet documentary series featuring David Attenborough.

“We need to be mindful of the legacy we leave the next generation,” she said.

“We are asking our residents to do more recycling. That documentary has made such a difference in people thinking of the need to recycle.”

The debate ended with councillors calling on the Executive Committee to continue to monitor the policy and take action as appropriate