A FORMER deputy leader of Worcester City Council has come out in support of merging rubbish collections across the whole county - and has revealed he first raised it three years ago.

Councillor Roger Knight, who was also in charge of Worcester's bin collections until last year, was pushing heavily behind-the-scenes for some kind of county 'deal' before elections saw him lose his role.

Your Worcester News can reveal:

- Cllr Knight first raised his idea in 2011 by presenting it to an influential county-wide board in a private meeting

- After little progress was made he again pushed for it 18 months ago, but at least one council raised concern over potentially losing branding on bin lorries

- Cllr Knight insists a merger would save "massive" amounts of money to be re-invested in other front line services, and says it could even allow for the current Sixways depo to be turned into a plush hotel

Cllr Knight's intervention comes two weeks after we revealed how tentative talks have started over potentially merging collections.

He said: "Something needs to be done, I first raised it three years ago because it's clear to me the current situation is unaffordable in the long run.

"At the moment, for example, we have two sets of vehicles going up Grasshopper Avenue from two councils because part of it is in Worcester and the other bit is in Wychavon.

"We have all this duplication costing millions of pounds - one service would mean one set of fleet, one duty manager, one system of service management - the savings would be enormous.

"We cannot carry on going cut, cut cut - this is the way forward for bin collections and I don't think we will make the same level of savings by contracting it out, the way forward is to keep it in-house and merge together.

"The Sixways depo could even become a quality hotel. We need to push this."

Cllr Knight says he first raised it at a meeting of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Waste Board.

At the time a representative from Herefordshire Council said they would be prepared to back it, but at least one district council in north Worcestershire was reluctant.

One of the concerns was believed to be around unfounded concerns councils would lose their own branding on refuse lorries.

Back in January Worcestershire County Council agreed to investigate the implications after saying no potential costs and savings have ever been established.

The review, which is ongoing right now, is expected to conclude by mid-autumn.