CONTROVERSIAL plans for Bury householders to become the first in England to have their grey bins emptied once every three weeks have been “railroaded through”, it has been claimed.

The comments — from Bury’s Conservative group leader Cllr Iain Gartside — came after Bury Council’s overview and scrutiny committee decided not to refer the proposals back to the cabinet or the next full council meeting.

From October, under ambitious plans to create a “zero waste” borough, grey bins will be collected every three weeks instead of fortnightly.

Green and blue recycling bins will be emptied once every three weeks instead of four, while brown bins will continue to be collected once every two weeks.

The council says the changes will boost recycling rates and achieve annual savings of £862,000 in waste treatment and disposal costs.

Cllr Gartside, who is also chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: “This is such a serious matter that it should have been debated in full council. It’s been railroaded through.

“This particular decision needed urgent scrutiny. It has resulted in a public outcry and a petition of more than 3,000 names and created a lot of interest in the media.”

At the town hall meeting, last week, attended by more than 20 members of the public, the committee voted not to offer any comments, rubber stamping the decision made by the council’s cabinet a week earlier.

Cabinet member for the environment Cllr Tony Isherwood was quizzed for nearly an hour over the proposals.

Some members of the public told the committee they feared the change could lead to an increase in rats.

Cllr Isherwood said: “These collections only affect residual waste. We don’t anticipate any rise in vermin.”

He said arrangements would be made for large families to get a second bin if required. He added: “It is important we make these changes. This offers the opportunity to residents to recycle more.”

One member of the public asked if the changes were being introduced on the basis of recycling or cost. Cllr Isherwood replied: “It’s about both. But this proposal is the only one that is going to have a very good outcome.”

He said there was “no legal need” to consult the public and said there was no consultation in 2011 when a previous administration ann-ounced plans to change weekly grey bin collections to fort- nightly.

Cllr Gartside said Falkirk Council had implemented a similar change to the collection of non-recycable waste, but on a phased basis.

He said: “Why are we not taking the same approach?”

Cllr Isherwood said: “We have a good track record. We did it in one day in 2011. We are confident these prop- osals will work if the people of this borough support us. We have looked at many options and felt this was the best one.”

After the meeting, Cllr Gartside said: “I’m still not convinced by the answers, particularly in terms of the risks.”