CHESTER'S new multi-million-pound waste collection and recycling contract, due to be introduced on April 1 next year, will take an early breather to avoid missed collections at Easter, it has been revealed.
Environment portfolio holder Cllr Jill Houlbrook (Con, Upton Grange) revealed the first collections under the new system will be scheduled for April 20.
"The new contract will commence on April 1, 2009 but I have recently taken the executive decision that the new collection method will commence on April 20," she told Blacon Lodge Cllr Reggie Jones (Lab) in answer to a question at a meeting of the full City Council.
"This is to allow for the Easter Bank Holiday, with both Friday and Monday collections affected, to pass and to avoid any difficulties arising from vesting day for the new Chester West and Chester Council which is the same day the contract starts for this major change in the collection methods for the residents of Chester."
Cllr Houlbrook warned: "As in any project there are risks to the implementation but these are being carefully managed through robust management and comprehensive arrangements which include Chester City Council, the Cheshire West and Chester Council and the contractor's UK head of operations."
With most occupiers due to receive new wheelie bins and a growing shortage across Europe, Cllr Houlbrook said: "We have agreed to buy the bins through a procurement agreement designed not only to provide value but to reduce the time taken in implementation.
"We placed the order as soon as we were legally able to do so."
Chester was no exception to the shortage of wheelie bins, she said, and this had manifested itself as a potential delay.
"This is being managed to ensure our new collections will commence on April 20," insisted Cllr Houlbrook.
In a supplementary question, Cllr Jones sought confirmation there were no issues concerning the risk assessment of using the present 140 litre brown garden waste bins for the weekly collections of non recyclable waste.
He asked if the use of the bins was covered "from a health and safety point of view" for the operators as he believed they could present problems in terms of lifting.
Pointing out the 140 litre bins are already in use, Cllr Houlbrook replied: "They will become the household waste bins.
"There are no health and safety issues with those bins at all."
The city council expects recycling rates to rise following the signing of the seven year contract with waste disposal contractors, Focsa.
The deal features a package of improvements around kerbside collections and recycling with a massive reduction in the reliance on bags.
Most of the 118,000 residents in 51,500 properties in Chester will be able to use up to three wheeled bins.
The council claims there will be an immediate rise in the recycling rate of nearly a quarter, from the current best performance of 31% to 40%, followed by minimum annual increases of 1%.
Also included is a proposed £1m upgrade of the recycling facility at Bumpers Lane.
The new arrangements, approved by the Cheshire West and Chester shadow authority extend Focsa’s involvement as the city council’s waste management contractors.
The company was first appointed in the early 1990s.
The contract will meet stringent green requirements including the introduction of a new fleet of 20 collection vehicles with improved engine efficiency and more effective management of collection rounds to reduce emissions.
The 140 litre garden refuse bin used in 39,000 homes will be re-badged for use as general waste bins.
Two extra 240 litre wheeled bins will be provided.
One, for garden waste, will be collected fortnightly through the year and will provide extra capacity for residents to recycle their garden waste.
The second 240 litre bin will be provided specifically for recyclable materials including tins, cans, textiles, paper, card and plastics.
The bin will include a 40 litre caddy for collecting batteries and glass.
These bins will also be collected fortnightly, alternating with garden refuse collections.
Residents mainly living in terraced or difficult-to-access properties will remain on single-use bags which will be provided on a roll with six months supply.
These properties will also receive a garden waste collection service using paper bags.