A COUNCIL which was criticised for spending millions of pounds on fortnightly bin collections may now bid for Government cash to re-introduce weekly services.

Labour-led Durham County Council, which handed a £4.2m contract to a French company to manufacture and deliver 225,000 bins to support a new fortnightly collection regime, despite a UK firm bidding £250,000 cheaper, is expected to ask Whitehall for £4m to restore weekly collections for food waste only.

Terry Collins, the council’s head of neighbourhood services, said separate food waste collections would boost recycling, cut waste treatment costs and the food waste would be recycled to generate green electricity.

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But it emerged last night that the bid could mean residents being given yet another new bin; meaning some households would have four – for general rubbish, recycling, food waste and garden cuttings.

Alan Patrickson, the council’s head of service for projects and business services, said the authority had only “expressed an interest” in bidding for the cash and a more detailed bid would now be prepared.

Fortnightly collections are due to begin in County Durham next month. Council chiefs say the system will save up to £12m by 2017 and increase recycling.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has pledged up to £250m to help more than 70 councils across the country restore weekly collections.

Each council can bid for up to £5m.

If Durham’s bid is successful, weekly food waste collections would only be available in limited areas of the county, yet to be announced.

Gateshead Council, which began fortnightly collections earlier this month, has also expressed an interest in the Government scheme. Its residents may also need an extra bin.

Darlington, Stockton and Middlesbrough councils collect rubbish weekly and recycling fortnightly. Richmondshire has managed a fortnightly system since June 2008.

Councils wanting some of the £250m fund must express an interest by the end of the month, submit an initial bid in May and a full bid in August.

DCLG has not announced when funding would be awarded.

Previously, Durham County Council leader Simon Henig said £250m would not be enough to restore weekly bin collections.