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DCLG minister Bob Neill defends Review actions to "protect civil liberties"

Minister for communities and local government Bob Neill has defended the Waste Review’s actions on getting rid of powers to introduce bin taxes, bin snooping, and fines saying “it is not about headlines”.

Speaking to delegates at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management Conference 2011, Neill said: “By householders paying £120 a month in council tax, they expect to see a service.

“As professionals, you and I need to recognise stories in the national media [about bin taxes and fines] do not resonate out of thin air. So we need to recognise the frustration felt by local residents.

“Resentment undermines localism rather than strengthening it. That’s the fundamental difference in policy between the last administration and now. My take is that there were three issues that were particularly corrosive of trust between the councils and householders over waste – bin fines, bin snooping and bin taxes. All three, the Government has committed to taking a stand against.

“Under the previous administration householders could be fined more than a shoplifter. But even if these fines were not enforced, they still got in the way.”

Neill added that local authorities should not take the “lazy option” by “salami slicing services” but instead should look to find savings in the back office and by dipping into revenues, as well as implementing more joint-working.

Government will also work with local authorities to achieve weekly collections of “smelly waste”. He added that announcements on how local authorities are to be supported will be disclosed soon.

When questioned about his use of the £120 council tax payment to illustrate the importance of giving “comprehensive” bin collections to householders, when in fact waste collections can cost just £60 per year, Neill said: “I agree that it doesn’t all go on waste collection but for many people £120 is a lot of money and for people who may not use other services their council tax is used for, waste collection is the most visible service.”

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