Pressure builds in city bins row

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ONE of the first major political rows since Labour regained control of Sheffield blew up this week – over the bins.

Opposition Liberal Democrats are pressing for a commitment over the retention of weekly refuse collections as the Labour leadership looks to save money.

But Labour leader Julie Dore accused the Lib Dems of “cynical” and “shameful” behaviour, saying the ruling group has no plans to switch to fortnightly bin collections. A cross-party group of councillors is being set up to review the waste service

Following its election success last month, Labour has to save at least £48m next year. Asked to produce ideas, officers have already raised the notion of bins being emptied every two weeks which, it is argued, would not only save money in the contract with operators Veolia, but would also reflect an increase in recycling.

Now Lib Dems have tabled a motion at Wednesday’s full council that, if accepted, would rule out any change.

The party’s new leader, Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, said: “No party included moving to a fortnight bin collection as part of their local election manifesto, therefore there is no mandate for the move.

“We are urging all councillors to vote with us next week so that Sheffield keeps its weekly collection.

“Labour might try to pull the wool over our eyes by claiming the tight financial situation is forcing them to look at it. But Liberal Democrats have left behind a £10.5m budget surplus and record levels of reserves, so that excuse doesn’t wash.

“Labour kept their plans for large-scale frontline service cuts and council tax increases secret before the election. Now they have control, we fear that they will force this agenda on local people without any consultation.”

Coun Dore said for the Lib Dems to say that Labour have plans for large-scale frontline service cuts and council tax increases was “cynical beyond belief, as in fact we have said quite the opposite”.

She added: “Labour do not have any plans to move to fortnightly bin collection. Our only agenda is to clear up the mess left by the previous Lib Dem administration, whose waste policy has been a complete disaster.

“That’s why we will be asking a cross-party group of councillors to undertake a comprehensive review of the waste service. I want to make it clear that Labour do not have any agenda to move to fortnightly bin collections.

“Our priority is to get the best waste service based on people’s needs and expectations, and provide the best value for money for local people. That’s what we’ll be asking the review to focus on.”