Communities secretary Eric Pickles’ campaign to re-install weekly bin collections has been dealt a further blow with a group of Tory councils set to snub his offer of cash to fund changes to their collections.
South Hams, Mid Devon and East Devon district councils and Torbay Council told the Western Morning News they were unlikely to apply to the new £250m weekly collections support scheme.
Tory-controlled South Hams said: “As a high-performing district council with an established collection system and a 57% recycling rate, the cost of reverting to a weekly collection would be hard to justify to council taxpayers.”
Mid Devon, also Tory-controlled, said: “The council will continue with the existing arrangement whereby approximately 80% of households have an alternate weekly collection of refuse and recycling and 20% of rural households receive weekly collections based on the efficient use and capacity of vehicles.”
Ministers are set to unveil a prospectus on the policy this month despite reports of deep divisions between Pickles and environment secretary Caroline Spelman over the direction of the policy.
Waste chiefs and environmental campaigners have also voiced concerns about the potential impact it could have on recycling rates and about whether it represents the best use of scarce funding (9 Dec MRW.co.uk)
After the original policy announcemenmt, May Gurney Environmental Services managing director Nicola Peake told MRW that “populist measures” such as a return to weekly waste collections ran contrary to the government’s localism agenda.
She said: “We would urge the government to redirect the £250m fund to schemes that boost recycling and build on the excellent progress already made by UK local authorities to introduce a new generation of recycling and waste collection services.”
In December 2011, Pickles accused those in favour of less frequent collections of being out of touch with public opinion.
Pickles told the communities & local government committee a weekly collection was a matter of respect and alternate weekly collections made life “unpleasant” for those without big gardens.
He said the political class had “got out of kilter with what the public want”, adding: “I see this almost as a class issue. It’s kind of ok if you have a biggish house with a big garden and you can put the remains of food down the back of a garden.
“If you are in a terraced house and it’s right next to you, that is not a pleasant experience to have.
“What I am seeking to do, for those authorities that want to do so, without sacrificing recycling, to be able to deliver to the public what the public want and to make conditions that we don’t force people into recycling by making their lives unpleasant.”
When Pickles unveiled the scheme in September, he said it would “support councils to deliver a weekly collection of household waste and improve the environment”.