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Argument should be about quality not quantity

This fund has opened up a very important debate. Money for public services is always welcome, but I believe the response shows that most local authorities do not believe a mass return to weekly collection of residual waste is a strategically positive move.

There will be a number of reasons for this, including the relatively short duration of the funding in comparison with the ongoing costs of maintaining weekly collections.

But, for me, it underlines the fact that the Government’s thinking on this front is out of line and out of date.

We need strategic vision and leadership - both at a national and local level - that moves us forwards towards resource efficiency and not backwards towards the throwaway culture that we have been working hard to leave behind.

The argument is not about frequency or even quality of service. All local authorities should be striving to provide convenient, flexible, reliable waste and recycling services, and I make no excuse for any authority that is failing its residents.

But I do believe most people understand that waste is bad for our environment and our economy, and they look to their councils to assist them in doing the right thing.

And it is difficult to see any strategic benefit in changing a service that, for the most part, rates highly in satisfaction surveys, encourages greater recycling and helps move us towards the shining goal of ‘zero waste’ that politicians like to talk about.

Ultimately, if we cannot show leadership on waste - albeit making every effort to take the public with us - then what chance do we have with the much bigger environmental challenges, such as reducing our fossil fuel dependency?

John Skidmore, head of streetscene services for East Riding of Yorkshire Council and senior vice-president, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management

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