IT’S OFFICIAL — controversial bin changes in Bracknell Forest have been pushed back five months.

The council’s top team confirmed the delay at a meeting this evening, meaning divisive plans to collect green non-recycling bins every three weeks will not go ahead until March 2021.

This change was unveiled at the start of the year to enable Bracknell Forest Council to introduce food waste bins across the borough — but this service will also now be postponed.

READ MORE: How will Bracknell Forest's bin collection timetable change?

The delays come as plans to roll-out the changes were interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown has meant officers can not clearly communicate with residents this summer about the forthcoming changes, which were originally planned for October.

The pandemic has also halted production of five new waste vehicles ordered by Bracknell Forest Council in preparation of the food waste collection service.

Bracknell News:

Mapping of new routes for bin men has been delayed as well due to staffing shortages at Bracknell Forest's SUEZ bin-collection team.

The changes to the green bin collection timetable were not popular with residents when they were unveiled in January 2020.

A petition set up demanding BFC reconsidered its plans and engaged with residents about the changes was signed by more than 3,000 people.

Many backers were in favour of the new food waste bins, but others left comments on the petition site spelling out their concerns about smells coming from three-week-old waste in the summer.

READ MORE: Why is the council changing the borough's bin timetable?

The delay will cost Bracknell Forest Council £34,000 of the £219,000 saving it was set to make from changing green bin collections to every three weeks instead of every fortnight up to 2027.

Before the decision was taken, councillor Dorothy Hayes, BFC's environment chief, urged her fellow councillors to help spread the word about the changes at Christmas fetes and at community events before they are rolled out.

She said: "We are still very committed to tackling the growing issue of climate change.

“This is one way we will bring it home.

Bracknell News:

“It’s unfortunate we are in unprecedented times and we have not been able to complete the necessary preparatory work needed for a successful launch in October.

“Our residents want this. However, with the delay until March, we can now communicate and engage with residents.

“By introducing weekly food waste, we will not only increase our recycling, which is what we want, but we will be saving so much [money] not going to landfill [which will be] going to services that need it.”

READ MORE: 3,200 people sign petition against controversial bin changes

The October changes were only planned for households in Bracknell Forest, with flats set to receive food waste bins in April 2021.

Postponing the changes means flats and houses with communal bins will now likely receive food waste bins in Autumn 2021 instead.

The move to postpone the changes to the bin timetable was confirmed by BFC's executive at a meeting on Tuesday, July 14.