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Shadow secretary for communities and local government claims Labour and Lib Dems plan bin taxes

Shadow secretary of state for communities and local government Caroline Spelman has criticised Labour’s ‘bin tax’ in contrast to the Conservative ‘recycling reward’ policy, as part of the Conservative’s general election campaigning.

She claimed Labour is planning to, “hit family homes with bin taxes and a new wave of bin cuts” after the Government changed the law to allow bin taxes to be imposed without a vote in Parliament. The Liberal Democrat party would also support this measure if they came to power, she continued.

Spelman added: “We will reward families for recycling and going green and will work with councils to bring proper weekly rubbish collections.”

Although not revealed in the Liberal Democrat environment manifesto which was published on 25 April, a Liberal Democrat press officer confirmed to MRW: “We would give councils more powers to introduce bin charging based on weight.”

Conservative councillors were responsible for introducing the RecycleBank scheme to the UK in the Royal Boroughs of Windsor and Maidenhead, which see householders earn gift vouchers according to how much they recycle.

According to Spelman, Government’s plans to implement pay as you throw schemes, and move towards monthly bin collections by 2011 are backed up by Government-funded research. It seems that Spelman’s “new documents uncovered by parliamentary questions” refer to a report from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs called Landfill Bans in the EU and US publicly published in September 2009. The report’s aim was to analyse countries that have implemented landfill bans of recyclable materials and use it as a basis of how this could be put in place here.

A Waste & Resources Action Programme called Landfill Bans: Feasibility Research published in March this year is also referred to when Spelman mentions documents revealing waste should be “collected no more than fortnightly”.  The report argues that if recyclate collections were to be increased due to landfill bans, less residual waste would be created and therefore less frequent collections would be needed.

Furthermore, Spelman’s claims that the Labour party are to introduce monthly bin collections have not been confirmed by the party. A spokesperson told MRW: “Decisions on local waste collections, including their frequency, are a matter for local authorities as they are best placed to understand local needs”.

Additionally, an article published by the Daily Express on 25 April - which includes Spelman’s comments – reported that WRAP had recently revealed that monthly collections were “inevitable”. This is based upon a story which appeared in the Telegraph in June 2008, which expressed the same views and used the same comments from head of waste programmes at WRAP Philip Ward. However, WRAP denied these claims to MRW two days later in 2008, claiming Ward had not said this but were remarks made by someone else at the same event.

Currently, as a Government body WRAP is in purdah, therefore since the election period was announced it has been unable to provide comments or opinions for fear of swaying votes in the general election.

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