Ratepayers' revolt as Banbridge council bin collection plan rubbished
Banbridge District Council is facing a ratepayer revolt over plans to reduce black bin collections to just once a month.
Angry campaigners in Banbridge district are set to take their grievances directly to their elected representatives after claiming their voices are not being heard.
The storm of protest comes as a household waste trial that cut the number of black bin collections from once a fortnight to once a month is to be extended in the Co Down town.
The council started the trial in January on two of its routes and the council said it was so successful it will be extended from the initial 1,500 homes to a further 14,000.
Now campaigners have asked the council to reserve 100 seats for members of the public at the next meeting on October 6.
"This will be the first of a graduated response to the council until they listen to their ratepayers," they vowed.
A spokeswoman for Banbridge District Council confirmed that a request of this nature had been received but not responded to yet.
A spokesman for the campaigners said their "ultimate aim" was for the council to leave the bin collections as they were and said the "vast majority" of ratepayers were opposed to the proposals.
He said: "One of the issues is families with young children and nappies. They have to go in to the black bin and they are going to be lying in the bin for a month.
"There are health issues; rats gathering because of the waste and an increase of fly-tipping where people throw their rubbish into black bags and dump it along the road somewhere."
However, the director of environmental services at Banbridge District Council, David Lindsay, said it "categorically refuted" that there was any evidence that the vast majority of ratepayers were against the trials, and that it had written to households to explain the rationale behind them.
The official said: "We gave a personal invitation to every one of our householders if they had any reservation or concern, or indeed if they had any questions, or queries about how the trial would actually work, or if they wanted to find out anything more." Mr Lindsay said three different means of contact were provided, which were backed up with eight information sessions, and that to date the council had received 450 enquiries.
He said: "Those 450 enquiries out of over 35,000 people are not objections. In fact, a small number of them were people outrightly objecting.
"At the eight information sessions we held, we had a grand total of 49 people attending.
"The council believes that's more than enough evidence to suggest that in fact, contrary to claims, the vast majority of people are actually not objecting to this trial at all, and the vast majority who we have spoken to are actually happy enough to give the trial a go."
In August the Belfast Telegraph revealed fears were growing that bins could be emptied just once a month across Northern Ireland. It came after Banbridge District Council piloted a monthly black bin collection service as part of a scheme to boost recycling. The DoE admitted it was likely other councils would follow suit.