Bin collection money 'inadequate'
Councils are shunning a £250 million Government bid to encourage them to switch back from fortnightly rubbish collections to weekly bin rounds, a survey has suggested.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles first announced the pot of money before last autumn's Tory party conference to improve weekly rubbish collections and reverse the trend towards picking up household rubbish only once every two weeks.
The funding is available to councils which return to or maintain weekly waste collections which Mr Pickles has described as a "basic right", and to cut the number of bins for householders, bring in weekly food waste rounds and boost recycling.
But a survey conducted by the Press Association, before the March 16 deadline for expressing initial interest in funding, suggested little appetite for a shift back from fortnightly to weekly bin rounds, including among Tory councils.
Almost half (26) of the 59 English councils which responded to the poll said they would not apply for funding or were unlikely to do so, while a quarter (13) said they would or were likely to. Another 20 were considering whether to apply now or in the future, had made no decision or gave no answer.
Overall, 20 out of 34 responding local authorities who already run systems where residual waste is picked up every two weeks said they would not or were unlikely to apply for funding.
Not one of the councils with fortnightly rubbish collections said they planned to apply for funding to increase the frequency with which they collect black-bin rubbish.
Local authorities who are turning down the cash said it would not cover the costs of a return to weekly collections and raised concerns that funding was only available for three years, although councils had to guarantee weekly bin rounds for five years under the scheme.
They also said the move towards fortnightly collections had boosted recycling rates significantly and that there was no demand from householders for a return to more frequent waste rounds.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Rubbish collections are the most visible service people get from their £120-a-month council tax bill and ministers believe every household in England has a basic right to have their rubbish collected every week. The Government's £250 million weekly collection support scheme is there to help councils retain or reinstate weekly residual waste and improve recycling services for their residents. Councils who choose to reject this fund are kicking local residents in the teeth by leaving them with a second-rate service."