A U-TURN on cutting back on weekly bin collections in Wokingham, Woodley and Earley could be in sight after a successful vote by the Conservatives calling to reverse the decision.

Recently, the Wokingham Conservatives held a petition which received more than 2,000 signatures calling on the Liberal Democrat administration to abandon planned changes to waste collections.

The Liberal Democrats in charge of Wokingham Borough Council have decided to make changes to waste collections which involve fortnightly instead of weekly bin collections and getting rid of  blue plastic bags for general waste and replacing them with wheelie bins.

These changes would be for general waste and recycling, with food waste continuing to be collected weekly.

The Liberal Democrats exert control over the council in a voting agreement with Labour and Independent councillors.

READ MORE: Bin collections to change to fortnightly pick ups as proposal is agreed despite backlash

However, councillor Norman Jorgensen (Conservative, Maiden Erlegh) put forward a successful motion for the council to retain weekly collections, against the agreed changes.

Cllr Jorgensen said: “It’s clear that  the majority of residents wish to retain weekly waste collections.

“Over 2,000 people have now signed our petition and only 24 per cent of respondents to the council’s consultation liked the idea of moving to fortnightly collections.”

Cllr Jorgensen continued: “Because of this upfront expenditure, there will be no savings arising from the scheme for several years.”

Councillors then debated the motion, with Conservative members arguing weekly collections have been established in the borough for 20 years and should be retained.

Cllr Jorgensen pointed out the changes would cost £2 million, with £1.5 million of that being used to purchase wheelie bins and £460,000 in one-off implementation costs.

The council’s administration has claimed that changes to waste collections would save more than £1 million per year if implemented.

Instead, the Conservative motion called for investment in better communications with neighbours to ensure they understand what they can recycle.’

However, cllr Andy Croy (Labour, Bulmershe & Whitegates) argued messaging is less effective if it is not accompanied with a change to service – namely the replacement of blue bags with bins.

Cllr Croy said: “Refusing to back the changes means we are happy to throw £1 million away in savings.

“The Conservative plan to simply spend more money on messaging is the least efficient way of spending council taxpayers money.”

He added the only resident who contacted him opposing the change was cllr Keith Baker (Conservative, Coronation).

Cllr Ian Shenton (Liberal Democrats, Evendons), the executive member for environment who led the charge on the waste collection changes accused cllr Jorgensen of “a reckless addiction to single use plastic bags”.

Bracknell News: Blue bin bags used for waste in Wokingham, Woodley and Earley. Credit: Wokingham Borough CouncilBlue bin bags used for waste in Wokingham, Woodley and Earley. Credit: Wokingham Borough Council

In a nail biting vote, councils agreed that the weekly collections should be retained by 27 votes to 25.

All Conservatives voted for the motion, with all Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors present voting against.

Cllr Gary Cowan (Independent, Arborfield) voted for it, but cllr Jim Frewin (Independent, Shinfield South) voted against.

There were some absences from the meeting, with cllr Clive Jones (Liberal Democrats, Hawkedon) being unable to attend due to illness and cllr Shirley Boyt (Labour, Bulmershe & Whitegates) not attending for private reasons.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has asked the council to clarify what the next steps will be following the motion vote, which took place at the full council meeting on Thursday, March 23.