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UK Politics

Councils offered cash to keep weekly bin collections

Weekly bin collections, one of the public services most highly prized by Conservative voters, are to be rescued from the impact of public spending cuts.

The Government is finalising details of a £100m scheme that will give councils a financial incentive to empty bins every week rather than fortnightly.

About half of local councils have abandoned weekly collections, after receiving advice from the Audit Commission in February 2010 that fortnightly collections could save money without endangering public health, because 14 days is the minimum life cycle of a fly. Rubbish collection is one of the few council services that affects everyone equally, so its withdrawal is immediately noticed by residents who do not otherwise rely on council services.

Their anger was quickly felt by Conservative politicians, who promised to bring back weekly collections. David Cameron decried the practice of switching to fortnightly collections when he was Leader of the Opposition. "There is absolutely nothing green about allowing people's rubbish to rot in the streets, having an increase in rats, pests and smell," he warned.

Shortly after the Coalition Government was formed, the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, blamed fortnightly collections on "a clear conspiracy by Labour ministers and Whitehall bin bullies" and promised to end them.

"A Defra spokesperson said: 'We won't comment on speculation about the final detail of the waste review. It is important that the right polices are in place to help communities and businesses reduce waste and maximise recovery of materials through recycling. The review will be published shortly.'