PROPOSED three-weekly bin collections in St Helens would lead to a build up of dirty nappies and create public health hazards, a councillor has said.

Council bosses were grilled on the public’s concerns regarding the pilot, which will begin in September if approved, during a special scrutiny meeting this week.

Residents have expressed concerns, councillors said, that the extra waste will lead to an increase in rats, flies and maggots.

However, Tim Jones, senior assistant director of trading services, assured councillors the system will not cause any public health concerns.

He added that no health hazards will come from an increase in nappy waste – as long as they are double bagged.

In response, Newton councillor Jeannie Bell said: “On average, new-borns generate 50 nappies a week.

“I know from my experience and the experience from some of my residents who have emailed me on this, if you’ve got two children who are both in nappies under the age of two, which happens, then that’s 100 nappies a week, 200 over two and 300 over three weeks.

"Regardless of how well you double bag them, I struggle to see how that cannot be a public health concern.”

Cllr Richard McCauley, ward member for Thatto Heath, fears maggots will be more prominent as a result on food waste being in the bins for longer.

He said: “If there’s food left in a bin for three weeks, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know there will be maggots in there.”

The pilot, if approved, will focus on two routes in St Helens, covering 2,000 homes, with a view to rolling it out from September 2019.

One of the key drivers of the change, which is part of a wider revamp of waste services, is to reach a recycling rate target of 50 per cent by 2020.

Currently the borough’s recycling rate is at 39 per cent but has dropped by around five per cent following the introduction of the garden waste charge.

“I think if we introduce a three-weekly system now, it would be disastrous because we haven’t got enough participation now in the system,” Mr Jones said.

“The system itself is robust and provides the best possible system in St Helens in recycling terms.

“The issue is implementing that and having residents on board and engaged and following the system.”

Waste services portfolio holder Lynn Clarke, told members she has spoken to six other authorities that have implemented three-weekly bin collection services, and said none expressed any public health concerns.

She also said none of the six authorities, which included Wigan, Bury and Rochdale, saw an increase in flytipping following the change.

Haydock councillor Martin Bond said statistics have shown that flytipping has gone down in line with increasing recycling rates but said this has not been the case in recent years as recycling has “flatlined”.

In repsonse, Mr Jones said: “We have a problem with flytipping in St Helens, we have a significant problem.

“That’s mainly in rear alleyways, 70 per cent of flytipping is in rear alleyways in a number of wards in particular.

“So, there is significant problem there that we do need to address as part of the review into waste.”