SOUTHEND’S Labour party has vowed to introduce “free bulky waste collections” if elected after fears new fortnightly wheelie bin collections could spark a rise in fly-tipping.

Southend Council is set to replace weekly sack collections with fortnightly black wheelie bin collections. However, the plans have sparked a number of concerns from residents and councillors.

Bulky waste collections, similar to those in place in Basildon, would allow residents to pay a fee to get larger household items collected, including the likes of fridges, barbecues, bedside tables, and other items too big for a black bin.

Now, Labour leader Daniel Cowan has raised concerns it could lead to an increase in fly-tipping and has promised to introduce “free bulky waste collections” for residents.

However, Kevin Buck, Tory councillor responsible for highways, transport, and parking, has branded the plan “pie in the sky”.

Mr Cowan said: “This is a sensible, pragmatic tool to help reduce fly-tipping in our city. Labour wants to build a city we can be proud of, and that means keeping our communities as free from fly-tipping as possible.

“The Tories broke their promise to keep weekly bin collections and we have real concerns that their half-baked plans will see fly-tipping increase.

“Labour has a real plan to reduce fly-tipping, and this is one part of that.”

Asked how the bulky waste collections would be funded, Mr Cowan claimed it would be “self-funded” through a reduction in the costs associated with tackling fly-tipping.

Labour St Laurence councillor Lydia Hyde, added: “Free bulky waste collection will be a vital tool in our efforts to make Southend cleaner and greener.

“This model works well for many councils across the country, including our neighbours over the estuary in Medway.

Labour claims the Conservative party have been “unable to satisfy concerns raised on behalf of residents” about how bin collections will work.

Mr Buck said: “They, firstly, have no time to negotiate a new waste contract, they have left it too late to renegotiate a new waste contact.

“It’s pie in the sky to think that by offering a new free source, it could be funded by not collecting fly-tipped waste. In my 25 years of experience in the waste industry, this will not be the case. They want to fund by cost avoidance, you cannot budget for that unless you have concrete evidence that cost will be avoided.”