THREATS to impose weekly bin collections on councils by law have been attacked as a “unnecessary and costly diversion.”
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis has confirmed that they are considering putting the pledge in their manifesto for next year’s general election following a campaign by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles who has long claimed that weekly collections are a “fundamental right.”
The Government insists it is possible to have frequent rubbish collections while still saving cash and boosting recycling.
They also say that frequent collections are a way of reducing fly tipping.
But Wigan’s Council leader said that returning to weekly collections from the fortnightly system that has been in place for the last two years would mean six extra vehicles and 18 staff costing £1m to re-introduce.
Lord Smith also insisted it would be bad for the environment and a “real waste” of resources. He pointed out that the introduction of alternate weekly collections and the provision of recycling bins has encouraged residents of Wigan to recycle more.
In the last two years recycling rates have increased from 36.1 per cent in 2011/12 to 50.02 in 2013/14 – exceeding government set target of 50 per cent an impressive six years early.
But with more stringent targets expected, these would be more difficult to achieve if this step is taken by the government, and residents are less likely to maximise their recycling capacity and put more waste into the black bin, increasing the amount the council collect.
Council Leader Lord Smith said: “We have used this saving as part of the Wigan Deal to pass on a freeze in Council Tax to local people.
“Nowhere in these mad plans do the Tories mention any compensation for local councils to pay for their foolish notions.
“So other services and local Council Tax payers would inevitably suffer.”
He said that the changes made two years ago – including the reduction in the amount of black bin waste collected from residents – had helped to achieve £1m savings per year for the council.
Reinstating a weekly black bin collection service would mean the £1m extra cost having to be met from existing council budgets, Lord Smith said, impacting on the provision of remaining front line services to council tax payers.