U-turn on a weekly bin plan backed

COUNCIL chiefs have welcomed a Government U-turn after ministers said local authorities will not be forced to bring back weekly bin collections.

Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs say they are delighted as the current waste collection service is working well in the town.

The town has for several years had a cycle of collections that sees rubbish collected in green bins every fortnight. Durham County Council will bring in similar collections.

But with the cost of switching from fortnightly rubbish collections to weekly rounds believed to run to hundreds of millions of pounds, the Government admitted it could not deliver on its pledge to ensure more frequent waste services.

Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, had previously pledged to reverse the move to “unpopular and unhygienic” fortnightly rubbish collections by councils and make them bring back weekly bin rounds.

The Government said it would work with councils to increase the frequency and quality of rubbish rounds, and that the public had a “reasonable expectation” that household waste collections should be weekly, particularly for “smelly” waste.  

But there was no pot of money to help councils make the switch.

The costs of reverting to weekly bin collections across England are believed to be more than £100m and potentially as much as £500m.

Councillor Robbie Payne, Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet member for finance and procurement, said: “We are very pleased with the Government’s decision because the current waste collection and recycling arrangements in Hartlepool are working very well.

“Under the alternate weekly collection system in the town, the brown bin (garden waste) and white bag (plastics and cardboard) are collected and emptied one week and the blue box (cans and glass), blue bag (paper) and green bin (any other waste) are collected and emptied the following week.

“As well as being in line with the national commitment to recycling, these arrangements also save the council, and therefore the council taxpayer, more than £1.3m per year, which is what it would cost if we didn’t recycle and sent the refuse to landfill instead.

“In 2010-11 more than 17,400 tonnes of household waste was either recycled or composted.

“Since the introduction of the alternate weekly collection system in 2004-05, the council has seen a 21 per cent increase in the recycling rate to more than 40 per cent, which is great news for the environment.”