BURY Council bosses are facing a fierce backlash over controversial plans to become the first authority in England to switch the collection of grey bins to every three weeks.

Politicians, members of the public and a trades union are spearheading opposition against the proposals which were approved at a council Cabinet meeting last night.

Criticism levelled against the council include fears that the proposal to empty grey bins every three weeks — instead of fortnightly — will cause problems for larger families and could lead to vermin and flytipping.

Others have slammed the council for not consulting with the public before the plans were announced.

The proposal for the grey bins — which cater for non-recyclable household waste — was revealed as part of the council’s strategy to create a “zero waste” borough.

It will also mean green and blue recycling bins would be emptied once every three weeks, instead of four, while the brown bins would remain at their current two-week collection.

Council chiefs stressed the new arrangements, set to be introduced in October, will push recycling rates up from 47.6 per cent to 60 per cent or beyond by March, 2016, and generate annual savings of £862,000 in waste treatment and disposal costs.

They say larger families with extra waste they cannot recycle will be able to apply for an extra grey bin.

Cllr Iain Gartside, the Conservative group leader on Bury Council, says they are “very concerned” about the effect the switch is going to have on many families and households.

He added: “Having spoken to many residents, we know lots of people will struggle to cope with a three-weekly grey bin collection.

“Many residents have also been encouraged by Bury Council to exchange their large bin for a smaller one to help with recycling.

“So, how are they now going cope with a three-weekly collection? The effect of increasing levels of fly-tipping, which could cause public health hazards, is also a major concern.

“There has also been a serious lack of consultation on this by the ruling Labour group, who appear to be trying to railroad this policy through.

“The decision was made by the Cabinet committee made up of Labour Party members only less than a week after they announced the proposals.”

If the plan goes ahead, Cllr Gartside says he intends to “call in” the decision to the council's scrutiny committee to ask Labour to reconsider it.

He added: “I accept that we need to do all we can to improve recycling rates in our borough but there are better ways to go about it.”

LibDem Cllr Tim Pickstone said: “Local people are furious about this proposal.

“Not only is Bury Council proposing to have the worst bin collection frequency in England but the way it announced the decision, with no consultation or public involvement, has also annoyed many people.

“Liberal Democrats have been conducting an online opinion poll over the weekend and 700 people have responded so far. Ninety per cent are opposed to three-weekly collections, six per cent in favour.”

Brian Bamford, secretary of Bury Unite, the main union representing binmen, said: “Our branch is deeply concerned about the proposal to reduce the collection of grey bins in the borough to once every three weeks.

“The talk of plans to create ‘zero waste’ in Bury by council bosses begins to sound like headline- grabbing by an ambitious management and local politicians.”

Radcliffe resident Daniel Barkess handed in a 3,318-signature online petition to Bury Town Hall on Tuesday.

The names for the “say no to three week bin emptying” petition were collected in just five days.

Mr Barkess, aged 27, of North Street, said: “To have our grey bins emptied every three weeks is a disgrace. It will lead to an increase in vermin and disease.

“The good people of the borough should have their bins emptied as usual as many residents already struggle with the way it is.

“To change it to three weeks is a selfish decision, as there are surely other ways to make cutbacks.”

Members of the public also attended Bury Council’s cabinet meeting yesterday to make their views heard.

While some were in support of the plans, others spoke against the proposals and expressed fears over bad odours, increased flytipping and ‘side waste’ left next to bins.