Green waste bin collection to be cut back

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EFFICIENCY savings have meant frontline services have been largely protected from cuts according to district council chiefs.

South Kesteven District Council is proposing to cut its winter collections of the green garden waste bin from twice a once a month to once a month. A collection service for bins that were put out late will be cut from twice a week to once a week.

The district council faces a cut in its Government grant from £10.14m to £8.29m in 2011/12. It will be reduced further to £7.34m in 2012/13, a cut of 23.32 per cent over two years.

But chief executive Beverly Agass and council leader Linda Neal (Con) said these were the only service changes people should notice because they had worked hard behind the scenes to make savings.

Mrs Agass said: “We have spent the last two years preparing for this to make sure we are not just having a knee jerk reaction.

“We have been making management savings and efficiency savings so we can reduce the risk of redundancy and protect our frontline services.”

The council carried out consultation last summer including face-to-face interviews and surveys with members of the public.

The top priorities people said they valued were street cleaning, anti-social behaviour, community play activities and public conveniences.

Coun Neal said: “We have really listened to what people said they valued. People said they wouldn’t mind us going to a monthly green waste collecting during the winter so we are reducing that and spending the money on street cleaning and verges, which people said they did want.”

The council has saved £300,000 from a management restructure, known as the next steps programme, and by not filling vacant posts when they have arisen.

Mrs Agass said: “We had been carrying 40 plus vacant posts and by not filling these, this represents a 10 per cent reduction in our work force. Some posts were made redundant in the next steps programme but no frontline posts have been made redundant.”

The council has also saved £200,000 from financial efficiencies and spreading back office costs.

Mrs Agass said the council had been preparing to make savings of 28 per cent over four years but was hit by a cut of 23 per cent over two years.

She said: “We have got no knowledge of what’s going to happen after the next two years. With such a significant cut now we are hoping we have had the worst early but we will still be planning and working efficiently, just as we always have done.”

The cabinet will meet on Monday to consider the budget, which will be set at a full council meeting on March 3.