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Bins fund details delayed

Local authorities will have to wait until February to learn how they can tap into a £250m pot to help fund weekly bin collections after ministers pushed back publication of the bid criteria, according to council chiefs.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles told MPs before Christmas that details of how to bid for the Weekly Collections Support Scheme would be published in “early January” but the Local Government Association said they now expected them next month.

Papers for the LGA environment & housing board meeting on Wednesday said “full details of the bidding criteria will be announced when the prospectus for the fund is launched in February.”  

The papers said: “[The bidding is] likely to be run in two stages with an initial expression of interest stage run from February with a relatively short timescale.

“The second round of shortlisted bids will have a longer lead time to produce a full business case for submission in the summer 2012. Winning bids are likely to be announced in the late summer or autumn.”

The papers also revealed the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) is setting up a technical advisory panel to assess bids, which the LGA expects to be part of, alongside organisations such as the Chartered Institution for Wastes Management and Wrap.

When Pickles unveiled the scheme in September, he said it would “support councils to deliver a weekly collection of household waste and improve the environment” but there remains considerable debate over what the fund should cover.

Earlier, it emerged that a group of Tory councils was set to snub Pickles’ offer of cash because they did not want to return to weekly residual waste collections.

South Hams, Mid Devon and East Devon district councils and Torbay Council told the Western Morning News they were unlikely to apply to the new £250m weekly collections support scheme.

Tory-controlled South Hams said: “As a high-performing district council with an established collection system and a 57% recycling rate, the cost of reverting to a weekly collection would be hard to justify to council taxpayers.”

Mid Devon, also Tory-controlled, said: “The council will continue with the existing arrangement whereby approximately 80% of households have an alternate weekly collection of refuse and recycling and 20% of rural households receive weekly collections based on the efficient use and capacity of vehicles.”

A DCLG spokeswoman insisted details of the bidding criteria would be published “at the beginning of this year, as we originally announced”. However, when Mr Pickles appeared in front of the communities and local government select committee in December, he said details would be published “in early January”

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