Two councils have disputed how effective combined waste and recycling bins are in Wokingham.

Waste and recycling bins have become a common fixture in Reading town centre and in towns and cities across the country.

While Wokingham Borough Council has said it has seen a lack of recycling in similar bins in Wokingham town centre due to contamination, this is disputed by Wokingham Town Council.

Currently there are three split general waste and recycling bins at Market Place and a few more in the Elms Field development, which were installed in the field on the insistence of Wokingham Town Council, which is controlled by the Liberal Democrats.

READ MORE: Wokingham shop owner's alcohol ban after underage sales

Yet a spokeswoman for the borough council implied the amount of recycleables recovered from the bins was small because people are not using them correctly.

She said: “Unfortunately, we have experienced a high level of contamination within these bins which has led to few recyclable materials being recovered.

“One item misplaced within a designated recycling bin could risk contaminating the entire contents which is what we’ve seen consistently with the three existing bins.”

But Cllr Imogen Shepherd-Dubey, the Liberal Democrat leader of Wokingham Town Council and borough ward representative for Emmbrook has argued that the bins are widely used and are popular in the town. 

She said: “It is frustrating because as bins need replacing over time, putting in dual use bins is very simple and cost effective. 

“People want to recycle, they will recycle, we know it works both in Wokingham town and Winnersh. Why the Conservatives shot this down I don’t know.” 

The debate over the bins has flared up after Councillor Shirley Boyt (Labour, Bulmershe & Whitegates) tabled a motion that would have introduced dual use waste & recycle bins throughout the borough, including the Reading suburbs of Woodley and Earley.

However, the motion was torpedoed by the ruling Conservative councillors during a full meeting of Wokingham Borough Council on Thursday, September 23.

READ MORE: Wokingham solar farm approved by council in contentious vote

Cllr Parry Batth (Conservative, Shinfield South)  the executive member for environment and leisure said the bins would not be “cost effective” and Cllr Gregor Murray, (Conservative, Norreys), executive member for emissions said the bins would cost “£1000 each.”

The motion received the full support of Liberal Democrats, which lead the opposition on the council.

Cllr Clive Jones, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat group said: “The Conservatives have totally exaggerated the costs of these bins to support their refusal.

“They claim that the proposal hasn’t been properly costed,​ this is a bit rich coming from a Conservative group who at the same meeting decided to spend ​more than £20 million on one solar farm without provid​ing a proper business case AND without proper scrutiny.​”  

Cllr Imogen Shepherd-Dubey opined: “This seems to simply be a case of the Conservatives not wanting to support an opposition motion rather than doing the right thing.

“Cllr Murray said the bins would cost £1000 each, yet Winnersh Parish Council were able to get them for £750 plus installation.”

READ MORE: Petition for new bus service for Wokingham pupils succeeds

 Cllr Jones’ claim over the lack of costing for the Barkham solar farm is disputed by the Conservatives, who state the solar farm will provide an estimated net income of £12 million over 25 years. 

However, the Conservative councillors did sink an attempt by opposition councillors that would have made the solar farm subject to a full business case and any action on the plan be approved by the council’s corporate and community overview and scrutiny committee first.

The amendment was rejected  by 25 votes to 20.