ERIC Pickles has branded most North-East council chiefs “barmy” for getting rid of weekly bin collections.
The Local Government Secretary published a new report designed to demolish “myths” about the alleged costs of sticking with waste rounds every seven days.
It insists supporters of fortnightly collections – now widely adopted across the region – are wrong to argue they are necessary to save cash and boost recycling.
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In fact, Mr Pickles claimed that:
- “Numerous” councils manage to recycle more than half of all rubbish while maintaining weekly collections.
- Innovate councils have been able to do so “at little or no extra cost”.
- Surveys had found that 95 per cent of residents wanted their rubbish picked up every week.
Attacking “barmy bin policies which made families’ lives hell”, Mr Pickles said: “People deserve a comprehensive weekly service in return for their taxes.
“We have exposed ten false fictions that fortnightly bin barons cling to as excuses for cutting services.
“If councils adopt this new guide as their ‘bin bible’, they will be able to save taxpayers’ money and still increase the frequency and quality of rubbish and recycling collections.”
However, the claims have been consistently rejected by both experts and local authorities that have made the switch to weekly collections.
And, in reality, Mr Pickles appears to have lost the battle to persuade town halls – including Conservative ones - to bring them back.
Durham County Council switched to alternate weekly collections of waste and recycling in 2012 – and recycled 1,600 extra lorry loads of rubbish in the first year.
Darlington is poised to make the same switch after more than half of residents who responded to public consultation said they were unconcerned.
Only 573 people commented on the changes, which are expected to save the council about £390,000 a year and are due to go head from October this year.
That means only Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and Sunderland have heeded Mr Pickles’ repeated pleas.
A £250m fund was dangled in front of town halls, but was instead gobbled up by councils that already picked up rubbish every seven days, in order to boost recycling.
They included Middlesbrough, which, the report said, had eagerly grabbed a slice of the cash on offer.
It quotes a councillor responsible for waste service as saying: “This is fantastic news which will be welcomed by people across Middlesbrough who have told us how much they value weekly bin collections.”
Mr Pickles once famously said: “It's a basic right for every English man and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait a fortnight for it to be collected.”