Council officers faced a grilling from cabinet members this week over proposals to cut bin collections in Enfield to once a fortnight.

Senior councillors demanded answers on whether the bins shake-up could be delivered and raised fears over a possible rise in fly-tipping and other social problems.

The changes – which will save the council more than £2 million a year – will see Enfield’s current weekly refuse and recycling collections cut to once every fortnight, with a £65-a-year charge brought in for garden waste rounds.

The council will also roll out a separate service to collect food waste once a week.

But two-thirds of people who responded to a consultation said they wanted to keep weekly collections, while only 9 per cent backed the shake-up that was later recommended by council officers.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Daniel Anderson, deputy leader of Enfield Council, said residents were angry they had been given options in the consultation that did not comply with the Mayor of London’s Environment Strategy and asked why they had been included.

Doug Wilkinson, director of operational services, regeneration and environment, claimed these options would be “operationally deliverable” but admitted they could be challenged by the mayor.

But he said the outcome of such a challenge was uncertain and pointed out that neighbouring Barnet was locked in a dispute with the mayor after scrapping separate food waste collections.

Mr Wilkinson confirmed keeping the current collection rounds would mean making cuts to other spending priorities such as children’s services, as waste disposal costs continue to increase.

Cllr Yasemin Brett, cabinet member for public health, said: “What if you have three or four children? Having a bin emptied every two weeks is not necessarily the best way.

“And from a public health point of view, some reassurance is necessary that the bins will not be stinking and so on.

“From experience I have had in some other countries, it can really be a problem.”

Enfield Independent:

Mr Wilkinson said the council would be engaging with larger families to help them comply with the new bin regime.

The council will advise residents on how to make the best use of their bins – such as compressing waste to free up extra space.

He added: “A big part is our investment of £500,000 in street cleaning – but also the creation of new jobs. It is about how we can help people and help them to help themselves.”

Two recycling officers and two enforcement officers will be recruited to help with the switch to the new regime.

Mr Wilkinson said a drive to help the environment and boost recycling rates – which could rise to 49 per cent – also lay behind the move to fortnightly collections.

He said: “Fortnightly collections will give us a step change in recycling performance.

“Alternative weekly collections helps to reduce the amount of trucks on the roads.”

Residents will be given free liners for their food waste bins for a year to help them adjust to the new collection rounds.

But Cllr Anderson warned that if the council started charging for the liners after a year, it could lead recycling rates to fall.

Mr Wilkinson said: “We know there will be some people who do not comply.

“That is why we have allocated additional recycling officers – to help people to be able to – and additional enforcement people, as there will be some people who will continue not to comply.

“We really need to drive people to recycle more.”

Council officers added that people would be given information on how to generate less waste in the first place.

But associate cabinet member Cllr Dinah Barry suggested residents were having to bear too much of the burden for a problem that shops and supermarkets had helped to create by using more packaging than was needed.

She said: “Residents are the victims of the packaging we get. We should not be making them do the heavy lifting.

“I wish we had done something to put pressure on where it needs to be.”

Mr Wilkinson said Enfield was part of a national and London-wide drive to lobby shops and manufacturers to reduce the amount of packaging on products.

He added: “That is the first port of call – we do not want to be picking this stuff up in the first place.”

Wednesday’s cabinet meeting was unusually well attended by members of the public, highlighting the importance of the issue for local people.

More than 5,500 people took part in the bin consultation – the biggest response to a consultation in Enfield’s history.

Conservative councillors, who oppose the collection changes, also attended – but only cabinet members were permitted to contribute to the debate.

The changes were given the green light and will now go to full council for approval.

They could also be challenged by a call-in to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee.