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Weekly bin funding plan attacked

Plans to pay councils to bring back weekly rubbish collections came under fire for wasting taxpayers' money and imposing Whitehall control on local communities.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced a £250 million fund to help local authorities in England maintain weekly bin rounds or make the switch back from fortnightly collections. More than half of councils in England now have systems in place in which rubbish is picked up only once a fortnight.

The Conservatives pledged to bring back weekly bin rounds in opposition, but the long-awaited waste review this summer did not include measures to force councils to increase the rate of collections.

A survey by the Press Association earlier this year revealed that no councils were planning to reverse the move towards fortnightly rubbish collections, claiming people were happy with their bin rounds and going back to more frequent pick-ups would undermine recycling efforts and cost millions.

Unveiling the move before the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Pickles said he believed every household in England had "a basic right" to have their rubbish collected every week.

"Weekly rubbish collections are the most visible of all frontline services and I believe every household in England has a basic right to have their rubbish collected every week."

The funding, from next April, will be given to English local authorities which guarantee to retain or reinstate weekly waste collections for at least five years, and which demonstrate the potential to increase recycling rates or provide other environmental benefits, such as reducing fly-tipping and litter, alongside weekly collections.

Keith House, Local Government Association (LGA) Lib Dem spokesman on the environment, said: "It's good news that the coalition Government is providing new money to councils for the vital frontline services of bin collection and recycling.

"Hard-pressed councils will be pleased to receive positive news amidst the general picture of severe reductions in spending. However, there is more than a whiff of old-fashioned 'Whitehall knows best' in Eric Pickles' dictat that only councils that provide weekly bin collection will be eligible for the new money."

Dorothy Thornhill, deputy leader of the LGA Lib Dem group, said: "Eric Pickles has revealed his true colours as an extreme centraliser. His statement flies in the face of the coalition Government's commitment to localism. It appears that local services must be provided according to Eric Pickles' demands."

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