A move to fortnightly bin collections has been ruled out of plans to save £6.6 million on Barnet Council’s environment budget.

But developments above car parks, dimming streetlights, more permit parking and even solar panels in parks are all being considered as ways of bridging the five-year budget gap.

The proposals were revealed at a meeting of the environment committee on Wednesday, as councillors pressed officers for more details on a savings report.

During the meeting, Labour environment spokesman Cllr Alan Schneiderman (Woodhouse) asked whether a proposed £1 million saving on waste collections involved a move to fortnightly rounds.

Committee chairman Cllr Dean Cohen (Conservative, Golders Green) responded emphatically: “No, it does not.”

Retaining weekly waste collections in Barnet was a key pledge made by the Conservative group in their 2018 local election manifesto.

Under further questioning from Cllr Schneiderman, officers revealed more details of their money-saving ideas – although they stressed none of them were yet concrete plans.

Geoff Mee, the council’s executive director of environment, said a review of parking policies expected to save £3 million “really relates to the provision of additional controlled parking zone activities that have been requested by councillors and communities, which have not been implemented thus far because of a lack of resources”.

He added: “We have a large amount of car parks in Barnet. There is the possibility of what is called air rights development, where we can build over the car parks but still retain the car parking facilities. We are working with the estates department to see where that could be developed for the future.”

Cllr Felix Byers (Conservative, East Barnet) quizzed officers about a line referring to “making the best use” of street lighting – expected to save £100,000. It follows the introduction of LED lights that come with a system allowing the council to control their brightness.

Mr Mee said that over the next year the council would “look at what we can do to lighting levels in specific locations, where we could – without endangering any residents’ safety or road safety – change the lighting levels in certain areas”.

“But all that will be done through testing, to ensure we meet the minimum light requirements,” he added. “We never had the opportunity to do that with the old lighting system. Now we have it, we must experiment to see whether we can save any additional funding.”

Mr Mee confirmed dimming streetlights was one of the options that would be considered.

Cllr Schneiderman pressed for more details on a £75,000 saving that involves a “review of low-quality or low-value parks and open spaces to assess the feasibility of installing renewable energy solutions such as batteries at substations and solar farms”.

Mr Mee said companies had suggested “that some of our parks are a prime location for looking at energy storage solutions. Sustainable energy is going to be one of the big things. We need space, and this is one of the areas.”

Cllr Schneiderman commented: “The trouble is, although some savings are in the future, there is a distinct lack of any detail in order to be able to make a proper assessment of any of them.”

Labour voted against the savings report, but it was approved when Conservative committee members voted in favour.

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