Government accused of bins U-turn
The Government has been accused of performing a U-turn on rubbish collections after it was revealed councils will not be forced to bring back weekly bin rounds.
The publication of the long-awaited waste review signalled an end to local authority powers to penalise householders for "trivial" mistakes in putting out bins on the wrong day or putting recycling in the wrong container.
But with the cost of switching from fortnightly rubbish collections to weekly rounds believed to run to hundreds of millions of pounds, the Government was forced to admit it could not deliver on its pledge to ensure more frequent waste services.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said ministers wanted to make it easier for the public to recycle at home and on the go, and to remove measures which encouraged councils to cut the scope of collections.
Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said the Government was calling time on the "town hall Taliban", stripping them of their powers to impose "unfair" bin fines and charges. Mr Pickles had previously pledged to reverse the move to "unpopular and unhygienic" fortnightly rubbish collections by councils and make them bring back weekly bin rounds.
While the Government said it would work with councils to increase the frequency and quality of rubbish rounds, and that the public had a "reasonable expectation" that household waste collections should be weekly, particularly for "smelly" waste, there was no pot of money to help councils make the switch back.
In the Commons, shadow environment minister Jamie Reed criticised the review for containing no waste recycling targets for England and abandoning Labour's plans to move to a "zero-waste Britain", and accused the Government of doing a U-turn on its pledge to enforce weekly collections.
The costs of reverting to weekly bin collections across England are believed to be upwards of £100 million and potentially as much as £500 million.
Asked why the Tories were breaking their pledge to bring back weekly rubbish collections, Mrs Spelman said the country's financial situation had been worse than expected when they got into power.
The Environment Department (Defra) said the waste review - which Friends of the Earth claimed only managed to reduce ambition and recycle old ideas - cost around £120,000, excluding staff time of officials in government departments who worked on the project as part of their normal responsibilities.