Eric Pickles blasts Bury's fortnightly bin collections
CABINET minister Eric Pickles has hit out at “barmy” fortnightly bin rounds employed by Bury Council.
Earlier this month, the secretary of state for local government published a “bin bible” report, pressuring authorities in England to collect rubbish on a weekly basis.
Conservative minister Mr Pickles said his study exposed the claims made by council “bin barons” to justify cutting services funded by council tax.
Bury Council empties blue bins for glass and green bins for paper and cardboard every four weeks and empties brown bins for garden and food waste and grey bins for non-recyclable rubbish every two weeks.
A spokesman for the authority said the switch from weekly to fortnightly collections in 2010 had saved millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and had improved recycling rates in the borough by 38 per cent.
Mr Pickles said: “This Government is standing up for hard-working people and getting rid of barmy bin policies which made families’ lives hell.
“Rubbish collections are the most visible service people get for their £120 a month council tax bill and they deserve a comprehensive weekly service in return for their taxes. We have exposed 10 false fictions fortnightly bin barons cling to as their 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.”
But the Bury Council spokesman said the authority — which now has some of the highest recycling rates in Greater Manchester — has no plans to revert to the system Mr Pickles suggests.
He said: “In 2010, it was costing Bury Council and our taxpayers £4 million a year to collect household waste and the council was paying £10 million a year in landfill taxes.
“Our recycling rate was eight per cent — the second-lowest in Greater Manchester where the target is 50 per cent. Bury sent the most waste per household to landfill and recycled the least paper and cardboard — but much of the waste could have been recycled using kerbside collections.
“If we had carried on, by 2015 collecting waste, disposing of waste and landfill tax charges would have totalled £21 million a year — more than £250 per household.”
Mr Pickles’ report says it is a “clear myth” there is no alternative to fortnightly collections if councils want to improve recycling rates and reduce waste produced.
It also claims fortnightly collections of residual waste are not the only way for local authorities to save money.
But the council spokesman said that, since moving to bi-weekly collections, Bury’s recycling rates have increased to 46 per cent — the third-highest in Greater Manchester.
He added: “We have reduced rubbish going to landfill by 16,000 tonnes — at a cost of more than £270 per tonne, this amounts to more than £4.3 million of avoided costs.
“We don’t have plans to revert to weekly collect-ions of household rubbish, although most households do receive a collection of at least one type of waste every week.
“We will explore some of the more interesting ideas amongst the best-practice examples.”
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