Communities secretary Eric Pickles has ordered the Audit Commission to stop encouraging the uptake of alternate weekly collection (AWCs) schemes by local authorities.
Pickles will formally write to the Commission – an independent watchdog which seeks to ensure efficient use of public finances – demanding that it repeals recent guidance that suggests AWCs represent better value for money.
He believes that a recent Waste Management Quick Guide which was issued to councils by the Audit Commission, supported AWC as a cost-cutting measure and triggered the move to ‘unpopular’ fortnightly collection schemes.
Pickles said: “Fortnightly collections are unpopular and unhygienic. It’s the traditional weekly bin round that people want. Diktats imposed from the centre forced councils to listen to bureaucrats over residents.
“The new Government will work with councils to freeze council tax and help them improve the frequency of rubbish and recycling collections. Let’s use incentives and rewards to increase recycling rather than cuts, fines and taxes. Families now pay a fortune in council tax - it’s time they got a better deal.”
According to a statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government, Pickles has a legal power to ‘direct’ the Commission to repeal advice if it refuses to comply with today’s official letter.
Friends of the Earth resource use campaigner Julian Kirby criticised the plans to repeal support for alternate weekly collections.
He said: “At a time when councils are having their budgets slashed the Communities Secretary should be promoting money-saving schemes - not ordering an independent commission to go back on its cost-cutting advice. If food waste is picked up weekly from homes there is no reason why it would be unhygienic to collect the remaining rubbish fortnightly.
“Mr Pickles should be doing everything in his power to persuade people to wasteless and recycle more. This includes encouraging councils to invest in recycling facilities and separating recycling on collection to maximise its value.”