Eric Pickles has accused Sheffield City Council of “intentionally ignoring” his £250m weekly bin collections fund and urged the authority to review its recent decision to move to fortnightly bin collections.
The Labour-run council said reducing the service to fortnightly would save £2.4m per year but the communities secretary slammed this as a “false economy”, according to Sheffield paper, the Star.
Pickles said: “I believe it is a false economy to cut frontline services - councils can save money through new technology, embracing innovation, more joint working and better procurement. Indeed, many councils with fortnightly collections have higher collection costs than those with weekly collections.
“It is disappointing the ruling administration on the council has decided to make these cuts. It intentionally decided to ignore the Coalition’s new scheme to support weekly collections. This strikes me as a very partisan move.
“I urge the council to review its decision and consider applying for the scheme.”
The council has also come under fire after it emerged the move to fortnightly collection will only save a maximum of £1.6m in its first year as it will not be implemented immediately.
It could also cost up to £1m in fees to contractor Veolia for changeover costs such as redundancies and there will be a £400,000 bill for ‘communicating’ the change to residents - leaving a maximum saving of just £200,000 in the first year.
Bryan Lodge, Labour deputy council leader, said: “We don’t have the luxury of waiting until October to set our budget and both Mr Pickles and Mr Clegg know that. It’s time for a definitive answer. Sheffield needs to know - are we guaranteed the funding or not?”