FURIOUS residents are fighting back after town hall chiefs axed bin collections at hundreds of rural homes.

Almost 700 households across Rossendale now have to take their rubbish up to two miles to designated collection points.

Campaigners fear the cost-cutting exercise will lead to an increase in fly-tipping, make the borough look untidy and discourage civic pride.

There will be no reduction in council tax for those homes affected.

Residents claimed the new scheme will turn them into ‘part-time rubbish collectors’.

Collection points, dubbed ‘dump sites’, have been located on roadsides and laybys throughout the borough but details of their locations are not being made public other than to local residents.

Concerns have also been raised over a lack of consultation with the residents affected, including those who live close to the collection points.

As well as starting an online petition, residents have organised a public meeting to discuss the controversial changes.

But town hall bosses said there had been adequate communication with residents and that the council would not be ‘formally represented’ at the meeting.

This week, 450 households went live with the changes, with the remaining 250 properties expected to adopt the scheme in the next six weeks.

The action is expected to save £92,000 and form part of the £2.6m savings the council has to make over the next three years.

Spokesmen for Burnley Council and Pendle Council said there were no plans to introduce similar schemes in rural areas of their respective boroughs.

Lesley Ham, 57, of Crawshaw Farm, Whitworth, said: “The fight has just begun.

“The whole thing is fly-tipping to me because putting rubbish on the side of the road is not environmentally friendly.”

At some collection points, like the one at Coal Pit Lane in Waterfoot, people will be able to put their rubbish in large ‘trade waste’ bins.

But at others, residents will have to take their bin bags full of rubbish before 7am on their allocated collection day.

They are banned from leaving rubbish overnight.

Alan Walker, 53, of Higher Fairbanks Farm, Goodshaw Fold, near Crawshawbooth, is behind the online petition.

He said: “This cost-cutting exercise unfairly discriminates against rural properties.

“People who live on farms often have to store rubbish for up to two weeks, so they then don’t want to put this rubbish in their cars to drive it down the road.”

“Residents don’t want to become part-time refuse collectors.

"We don’t think this is the right decision and that is why we are fighting it.”

Rossendale Council is responsible for collecting waste, including recycling, in the Valley, while Lancashire County Council is tasked with disposing of it.

Under an agreement, the two authorities share the cost of disposing of the waste and the income from the sale of the recycling.

Previously, recycling has not been collected from the majority of rural residents’ homes.

However, under the changes, they have the option of taking their recycling to their collection point for it to be taken away and disposed of.

By offering this service, Rossendale Council is able to save £12,090 a year because of its agreement with the county council.

Mrs Ham said: “We have always wanted recycling collections, but this just means we will be able to dump it on the street along with our rubbish.

“The council claims back £12,000 by saying it offers this when we are dumping our recycling on the roadside.

“The bottom line is that the proposals were not discussed properly and the consultation has been non-existent.

"They have flat refused a public meeting."

Councillor Alan Neal, who represents Healey and Whitworth, said: “The residents who live in outlying properties have been failed by Rossendale Council.

"There has been a failure to hold any form of proper public consultation meetings with the people and council tax payers.”

A Rossendale Council spokesman said that, since the changes were introduced on Tuesday, the vast majority of residents had been putting rubbish out as requested.

Some had even contacted the council to lodge their support of the scheme, he added.

Alyson Barnes, Rossendale Council Leader said: “The council will not be formally represented at the residents meeting although individual councillors may decide to attend.

“As we have already met with 300 residents it is unreasonable to say that we have not consulted regarding the implementation of this decision.”

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, from 7.30pm at Rossendale Rugby Club at Marl Pits. The petition is available at the address below.