North Down's recycling budget cut by £100k because of cash pressures
A council is slashing its recycling budget by half in the coming year due to "financial pressures".
A recommendation from Ards and North Down Borough Council officers to reduce the Recycling Community Investment Fund (RCIF) from £200,000 to £100,000 for the 2020/21 council budget year was accepted.
The council had previously declared a climate emergency.
DUP and UUP members of the council's environment committee voted to slash the fund last month, a decision ratified by the same parties at the full council meeting.
The RCIF has funded projects such as sea bins, beach cleaning and community gardens.
The fund was originally £900,000 and later received a cut of £700,000 to current levels.
The Alliance Party, Green Party, SDLP and some independent councillors all voted for an amendment at the council meeting which aimed to keep the recycling fund at current levels.
The amendment got 15 votes, beaten by 20 votes from the DUP, UUP and one independent.
Green Party councillor Barry McKee, who proposed the amendment, said: "What are we saying to the residents of this borough by cutting this fund? That we care only half as much about making recycling pay? That we do not truly stand behind our objectives?
"I understand the pressures faced by this council to make savings and to give value for money to the residents of this borough. I believe this decision to cut RCIF is taken because it is perceived to be a luxury that can be taken for granted."
DUP leader in the council Stephen McIlveen did not support the amendment.
He said: "This is an officer recommendation, the rationale behind that recommendation is key. It is there in the report - 'In the context of the challenging estimates process for the 2020/21 budget, where a number of financial pressures had been identified across the council'.
"We are all very aware of the what the suggestions are in terms of the rates process, which I won't go into, because obviously those are in committee, but we know that will be difficult. The questions will be what cuts can be made where."
He added: "It doesn't mean we are stopping it, it means we have to live within our means."