A key council promise to introduce wheelie bins has been dealt a critical blow after a lengthy investigation concluded they would be too expensive and would discourage greater recycling.

After failing to win opposition support for their 2010 election manifesto commitment to offer wheelie bins in December, Merton Council’s Labour run-administration tasked a cross-party scrutiny panel to examine wheelie bins alongside other waste and recycling issues.

The six-person panel, led by Merton Park Independent Councillor John Sargeant, will report their findings on Thursday that wheeled bins would encourage residents to recycle less because it keeps rubbish “out of sight and out of mind”.

Coun Sargeant said: “We were acutely aware that there are many roads in the borough where the management of wheelie bins would very difficult to handle. Examples of this would be The Apostles [twelve terraced roads in Raynes Park] or Haydons Road [in Wimbledon].

“We found that wheelie bins would not only be a logistical problem, but an aesthetic problem too.”

The report also called on the council to encourage supermarkets to stock transparent bin liners, with a view to ending the current practice of using black ones - so binmen can easily see which residents are not recycling.

Coun Sargeant explained that improving Merton’s recycling rate – already among the top 10 for London boroughs – was crucial due to the ballooning cost of using landfill sites.

But Coun Andrew Judge, the council’s cabinet member for environmental sustainability, claimed the report would benefit from further “in-depth analysis and evidence gathering” before the administration took a decision.

Coun Judge said: "We are pleased to receive this report which highlights the work the cross-party group has undertaken so far.

“In the light of the challenging financial circumstances for the council and the need to significantly increase recycling, we believe that this study would benefit from further in depth analysis and evidence gathering so that we can make the right decisions for Merton, not just for today but for the future."

The report did not consider the future of the garden waste collection scheme, which the council scrapped in April and has replaced with a £65 annual subscription service.

Coun Sargeant will formally present the panel’s findings at a council meeting at Morden Civic Centre on at 7.15pm on Thursday, May 26.

Click here to read the report for yourself.

What do you think of the report's findings? Leave a comment below, call 020 8722 6335 or email: ooakes@london.newsquest.co.uk.

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