Plan to axe weekly garden waste collections in Redbridge scrapped

Plans to shelve weekly garden waste collections have been scrapped even though the council is warning of a “grim” outlook for the years ahead while presenting its belt-tightening budget.

The garden waste service was going to become a fortnightly collection under controversial plans which would have saved �50,000 a year, but it will now be kept weekly.

Redbridge Drama Centre, Churchfields, South Woodford, has also been given a reprieve with planned cuts to its council subsidy now being spread over four years rather than three years as previously agreed.

But Panjak Pathak, of the Friends of Redbridge Drama Centre, urged councillors gathered for a Cabinet meeting at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, yesterday, to guarantee it is not aiming to make the centre “self-sufficient”.

Children’s services cabinet member Cllr Alan Weinberg said: “I believe �89,000 savings for 2012/12 is doable, but this will take the pressure off the drama centre and make their job a little easier.

“No one in this council chamber wishes the drama centre to close. I can assure you we all have the best interests of the drama centre at heart.”

The council will not give a penny to the centre by the end of 2014/5.

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Other budget savings agreed on Tuesday include the loss of an environmental health officer and three-quarters of a Trading Standards post.

A council report into the changes says there will be “significant delays in dealing with inquiries and complaints and a reduction in the number of programmed inspections and visits carried out in respect of these activities”.

Council leader Cllr Keith Prince said his officers had to find �3million of savings this year, with many cuts already agreed as part of the 2011/12 budget.

He added: “We’ve endeavoured to protect frontline services.”

Deputy council leader Cllr Ian Bond said: “We’re in the middle of the most difficult period this council has ever had. The outlook for the next few years remains very grim.”