A pilot scheme to have a weekly recycling and fortnightly rubbish collections in Berrylands has been cancelled, after Conservative and Labour councillors rebelled against the council's proposals.

In a lengthy and impassioned scrutiny panel meeting on Tuesday night, councillors sent the scheme to full council for debate, meaning, if it goes ahead at all, it is unlikely to start before June next year.

The pilot scheme aimed to boost recycling by cutting the number of black bin rubbish collections from weekly to fortnightly but also boosting the number of items that could be recycled in new weekly collections.

It was blocked by opposition councillors, who cited a lack of consultation on the scheme and the inclusion of microchips in wheelie bins, which Lib Dems could not rule out eventually being used to fine householders who did not recycle enough, most likely through central Government legislation.

Tories were also critical of the selection of perceived soft-option of Berrylands for the trial, where there are far more detached and semi-detached houses, which are the only properties suitable for the trial and would boost the apparent success of the scheme.

Tory councillor Dennis Doe said: "Frankly I think the administration has not gone about this as well as I would have hoped. More to the point is the amount of concern we are receiving from constituents."

But the Liberal Democrats were furious at councillors' decision to refer the matter to full council rather than an executive meeting specially set up for Wednesday night, which would have enabled the scheme to start on November 13.

It would have seen 2,400 households' recycling collected once a week, including many items such as food scraps which are currently not collected, with residual waste collected fortnightly.

Like all local authorites, Kingston faces penalties unless it reduces the amount of rubbish it buries in landfill. Cancelling the pilot will potentially have a financial as well as environmental cost.

There is also a danger that contractor SITA, which negotiated with officers to find £250,000 of efficiency savings to run the pilot, will lose patience with the council and possibly pocket those savings.

The Lib Dems also said microchips in bins could not yet have been used to measure individual waste but argued it was cheaper to fit the chips in new bins now rather than retrospectively if legislation was brought in later.

Speaking on the panel, Lib Dem Councillor Sue Baker said: "I am sitting here very disappointed. I thought all of us here collectively encouraged recycling and this trial is to do that."

The council will enter into a new waste contract in 2008 and wanted the Berrylands pilot plus other planned projects for flats and terraced houses to provide an early indication of what works and what does not.

Arguably the most impartial man in the room was SITA's John Murray. He said: "The pilot will demonstrate and allow you to put forward a new contract that would work for the residents and yourselves."

A fairly full public gallery was also prevented from speaking at the meeting.

Penny Baker from Kingston Friends of the Earth said: "I think I speak for the membership of Kingston FOE when I say what a great pity it is that the environment is becoming a political football. Culture really has to change on all sides if we are to come to terms with the urgency of climate change solutions."

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