A TASK group has been formed to scrutinise controversial plans to introduce three-weekly brown bin collections in St Helens.

The first meeting of the task group, which is open to the public to observe, will take place in Committee Room 10 at the St Helens town hall on Wednesday, April 11 at 6pm.

Senior council officers and councillors will be invited to give evidence about the plans and explain how and why the proposals have been developed.

Members of the public are also encouraged to contact their local ward councillors with their comments.

Cllr Martin Bond, chairman of the environment, housing, regeneration, culture and leisure scrutiny panel, said: “Waste and recycling is the only service provided by the council that directly impacts every household on a weekly basis.

“There is naturally huge interest in anything that affects the service. Scrutiny will look at the proposals and the reasoning behind them.

“As all elected members of scrutiny are residents as well, we are users of the service and want it to be the best it can be.

“That must be set against the confines of continuing austerity and potentially punitive Government targets.”

The announcement follows last month's cabinet meeting, which deferred a decision to pilot a three-weekly brown bin collection so that scrutiny could investigate the plans.

Members from all three political parties represented on the council have been invited to join the task group, which will be chaired by Cllr Bond.

Cllr David Baines, chairman of the overview and scrutiny commission, said: "Scrutiny is independent of any party politics – all members know to leave their party allegiances at the door when they take part.

We will look at the proposals for changes to the waste collection system objectively, interviewing senior officers and councillors, and we encourage as many residents as possible to contact their local councillors with their views.

“It's important that the public understand that scrutiny does not have the power to make decisions, however we can make recommendations and we'll be doing so based on the evidence we hear.”