HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond says reverting back to weekly bin collections would be a “backward step for our society”.
Mayor Drummond’s warning, in his column in today’s Hartlepool Mail, came after council chiefs slammed the Government’s offer of £250m to councils to fund a change from current fortnightly pick-ups.
On announcing the surprise package, which would be available over five years, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles said it was a “basic right” for rubbish to be taken away weekly.
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But during this week’s Hartlepool Borough Council cabinet committee meeting, civic chiefs reacted angrily to the scheme, saying most residents had “no desire” to change back.
The Mayor, who in his column said: “Not only would it cost much more than the Government is making available, it would actually be a backward step for our society.”
He then told the cabinet meeting: “I would propose that this cabinet and council do not apply to this pot created by Mr Pickles and that his £250m plus £750m for council tax fees could have been spent better elsewhere helping councils in need.” He added: “The national pot of £250m doesn’t seem enough to be sustainable.”
Denise Ogden, the authority’s assistant director of neighbourhood services, said the £250m is a one-off payment over five years and 348 councils are to apply for it.
She added: “There is some primary money to invest – additional revenue costs and waste disposal costs of £1.2m a year fall on the council to pick up.”
Ms Ogden said feedback from residents had shown there “isn’t a desire” to change back.
Mayor Drummond (pictured above) said: “I haven’t heard one person (who wants to change back), quite the opposite.
“Over the last eight or nine years I’d be interested to know how much money has been spent educating people in recycling.
“As soon as we go back to a weekly collection people will forget about recycling.
“All that money just wasted.
“There is a whole generation telling people how to recycle.”
Ms Ogden said it had cost £30,000 to employ an environmental officer to visit schools and spread the word about recycling.
The Mayor asked about landfill tax and Ms Ogden said there is an £8 increase per tonne of landfill waste year on year. She said Hartlepool disposed of about 11,000 tonnes of landfill waste last year.
Councillor Jonathan Brash said the Government chose to propose the weekly collection idea at “exactly the same time they are hiking landfill tax”.
“They are encouraging councils to encourage people to put more out to put into landfills, it’s a stupid idea,” he added.
Ms Ogden said although the rate of recycling had slowed down to an increase of 1.67 per cent, compared to 40 per cent over a number of years from when the fortnightly recollections were introduced, 96 per cent of all town residents recycle.