A PETITION of more than 5,000 signatures from outraged residents triggered a heated debate this week over the council's proposed £40 annual levy to collect garden waste.
Conservative group leader Councillor David Millican handed in the document - which he called 'easily the largest presented in living memory' - at a full council meeting on Tuesday (13) urging the leading Labour group to reconsider the new charge.
Cabinet members approved the new annual fee in September to charge households for the service, which is currently included in council tax, and to reduce it to fortnightly collections.
It is due to be introduced in April despite outcries by residents, particularly the elderly who could struggle with the additional cost.
Mr Millican said: "Residents have told us emphatically not to mess with the way recycling is collected.
"Many have said they're concerned that flytipping will increase and they will end up having to pay to remove leaves on the road."
But Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, the council's transport and environment chief, called the Conservative-lead campaign 'disingenuous' as the Tories failed to call the policy in for review earlier. And he defended the hike based on the council's desperate need to find £85million of savings.
He added: "The alternative to this is to raise council tax or introduce fortnightly collections (for all refuse). I ask the Tories what alternative would they choose?"
Despite the backing by residents, the opposition lost the vote to review the new policy.
On the night, Mr Mahfouz also announced speed limits on all council-managed roads will be reduced to 30mph or under as of January to improve safety for drivers and pedestrians. This excludes the main highways, such as the A40, which are managed by Transport for London.
And Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for community services, outlined plans to upgrade two libraries facing closure earlier this year. Perivale Library is set to get £400,000 and Hanwell £900,000 to make essential improvements to the dated buildings following the dramatic U-turn by the council to save four vulnerable libraries.
Funding will come from the recovered £2million invested in an Icelandic bank and thought lost during the financial crisis.
Mr Dheer said more than 50 volunteers had stepped up to help run the libraries at a reduced cost, and all 40 Labour councillors will volunteer at a large reading event in March.