A motion asking for more Northampton houses to be given wheelie bins in order to stop vermin getting into banned bin sacks was defeated at the Guildhall.
At the full council meeting last night, the Labour Group asked Northampton Borough Council to consider giving wheelie bins to all houses with gardens, providing there is suitable access for wheelie bins and a refuse truck.
They hope it will help the problem of bin bags being left in the street for days and, therefore, vulnerable to being ripped open by rats and foxes.
The problem has increased in the last few months since refuse company Enterprise stopped taking non-council bin bags in an effort to make people keep to the two- per-household-per-week quota.
Councillor Julie Davenport, (Lab, Delapre & Briar Hill), said hundreds of homes across the town would not have to resort to unauthorised bin bags, including many three-bedroom homes in Briar Hill.
She said: “The problem with green or black sacks is that they are left in gardens during the week that attracts cats, foxes, mice and rats who can easily tear them for their food supply.
“Only wheelie bins can stop this rat and mice epidemic by obliterating their food supply from all those green and black sacks full of waste, which can easily be torn, sitting in our gardens and streets week after week.”
Many people feel unable to keep to the two-bag policy because they did not receive all of their year’s allocation or feel they have to put their green bag inside another to reinforce it. Neither are considered acceptable excuses by Enterprise.
Labour point out that the move would potentially cut costs to the local authority as an additional truck would not have to follow the contractor’s truck on collection days. Wheelie bins also hold much more than the green sacks.
However the motion last night was defeated.
Conservative cabinet member for environment, Councillor Alan Bottwood, said the motion itself was “superfluous” because the council was only half way through its contract with Enterprise.
He said: “We are managing the situation on an ongoing basis.
“We are collecting the bags the following day, if not the same day.
“I don’t believe it attracts rats as much as you say it does.”
He added: “it goes without saying that all these issues will be taken into account during the re-tendering of the contract, starting in May 2018.”
Councillor Bottwood added that there would also be practical implications by rolling wheelie bins out across the town.
He said: “Households on sack collections are a mix of houses and flats. There are around 21,000 properties in total that receive weekly sack collections, which is around 23 per cent of the total number of properties in the borough.
“In some parts of Northampton, we are not able to introduce a wheelie bin scheme because they are predominantly terraced areas or contain flats and people don’t have a place to store a wheelie bin.
“There are some irregularities where a property could have a bin but the property falls outside of the current wheelie bin route.
“To make sure we get the best value for money out of our vehicles and make the minimum number of journeys each day, refuse collection rounds are calculated very carefully.”