THE council has been accused of carrying out an opportunistic 'cost-cutting exercise' for not yet bringing back recycling collections.

Opposition leader Councillor Chris McEleny has hit out at the local authority at the continued lack of blue bin uplifts - and says the necessary staff for the service have now been back at work for more than a month.

Municipal Buildings bosses say while they now have enough workers to reinstate the service, they still do not know when this will happen as their recycling contractor has not resumed operations.

The Pottery Street tip in Greenock reopened yesterday and was swamped, with cars queuing on the A8 from before 8am to get in.

At one point the waiting time was said to be over two hours.

The council’s other recycling centre, in Gourock's Kirn Drive, remains shut until June 15.

Cllr McEleny said while he was pleased to see Greenock’s recycling centre back in business, bosses should make blue bin collections a priority.

He said: “This is welcome news but we shouldn’t forget many households have built up blue bin recycling waste as we have repeatedly failed to make this a priority.

“Neighbouring councils did not suspend their recycling services and Inverclyde has had the staff back at work now for over a month.

“If it is safe for our staff to carry out the work, then homes across Inverclyde want the blue bin service reinstated.

“Despite six weeks of reassurances that reinstating the service 'is a priority', there doesn’t seem to have been any attempt to access an alternative waste uplift contractor via Zero Waste Scotland.

"It is hard not to come to the conclusion this is simply a cost-cutting exercise by stealth.”

Despite the blue bin service remaining out of action, garden and food waste collections have returned.

Council chiefs have insisted bringing back recycling collections remains an 'urgent priority' and say they hope to be able to make an announcement soon.

A spokesman said: “Unfortunately, the suspension of the [blue bin] service was prompted by the coronavirus outbreak, specifically due to staff shortages experienced by the council and its recycling contractor, which collects and processes dry recyclable waste.

“The council does not have the capacity to store or process vast quantities of recyclable materials and that’s why there is a contractor in place.

“While there are still some council employees off work, staffing levels have improved, which has allowed us to resume dedicated garden and food waste kerbside collections.

“While the council is ready and able to resume blue bin collections, the recycling contractor has been unable to resume its operations and this has therefore had a knock-on effect.

“Resuming blue bin collections continues to be a top priority and we hope to be able to make an announcement about this soon.

“We thank residents for their patience and understanding.”