CONTROVERSIAL plans to reduce bin collections from weekly to fortnightly have been challenged by opposition leaders.

Town Hall bosses announced plans in September to replace the weekly grey bin collections with a fortnightly service in a bid to save £2.6 million.

But the Conservatives “called-in” the proposals to the council’s environmental services scrutiny meeting on Tuesday — arguing that residents have a right to weekly grey bin collections. Conservative Cllr Bob Allen called for the introduction of half-sized grey bins to be collected weekly. He said: “We think there is a real alternative to the proposals.”

He said his proposal would encourage recycling and remove the need for food caddies. But Labour’s Cllr Nick Peel said there were problems with the proposals, including how the bins would be funded and how the move would affect recycling rates.

The committee agreed to refer the proposal back to the cabinet to discuss. If the opposition proposals are agreed, it would result in a second eight-week public consultation and a delay in the change coming into force.

Town hall chiefs said on Monday that a survey of more than 1,500 households in Bolton showed that 72 per cent of residents thought the proposed changes would have “little or no impact” on their home.

But a quarter of residents said the proposals would have a negative impact, raising concerns about hygiene, missed collections, and lack of space for recycling bins. They said there would be problems for larger households and those that produce a lot of nappies or medical waste.

In response, the council intends to return within two days to empty a bin if residents report that it has been put out correctly, but missed. Homes with more than six people, those with more than two in nappies, or homes with one or more residents producing medical waste, may be given an extra bin. A weekly food waste collection would be introduced for households without green recycling bins.

Bolton Council’s waste bill is to rise from £15.8 million to £24.6 million by 2016 because of fines imposed by the Government.