FEARS have been raised that Larne Council could potentially do away with its bin collection service for residents who live on rural laneways.
The local authority has sent out questionnaires in a bid to gauge the opinion of local people and establish the level of need for the service in the borough.
And East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has urged local people to make their voices heard over the issue to ensure that the service remains in place.
The Finance Minister told the Larne Times he was “very concerned” about the possible changes that may come from the council’s review.
He said: “I have received a number of telephone calls from constituents who live on laneways and have been sent a letter and a questionnaire asking about the laneway bin collection service that is provided.
“There is a fear that this service will be removed and anger at the fact that it says that if a response is not received it will be ‘taken as an indication that a laneway collection is no longer required’ at that address.
“I would urge people who live on lanes to respond to this letter and make sure the feeling of strength on this issue is heard. These services tend to be removed when they are taken for granted and when people do not makes their views known.”
The DUP man added that many people living in rural areas already felt “bereft of services”, and warned that the removal of bin collections would hit elderly residents that hardest.
“Residents have already witnessed the closure of post offices, shops and the removal of bus services, and this move will increase the sense of abandonment that many rural dwellers feel about those who provide services.
“Bin collections are a vital service performed by councils and for many people it is the only personal service that they see the council perform. It is imperative that this is understood and that the implications of removing this service are fully considered,” he said.
The Minister stressed that no decision has yet been made, and that council is only seeking the views of households at this stage.
A spokeswoman for the local authority confirmed it was carrying out a review of the service to ensure that the council was “making best use of resources as part of its continuing efficiency drive”.
She added: “Larne Borough Council is striving for a standardisation of waste collection practices and has identified opportunities to improve on current practices to deliver better quality services.
“The information from these questionnaires will enable us to understand the needs of rural residents and how these needs might have changed since the last review of this service was undertaken in 2001.
“This will allow the council to adopt a policy which will ensure fair and equitable treatment to all householders.”
Once all the information is collated, a report will be prepared and presented to Larne Council, along with a recommendation for approval.