Government dumps promise to provide weekly bin collections

Eric Pickles declared last year: "It's a basic right for every Englishman and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait two weeks for it to be collected."

But the Communities Secretary was eating his words yesterday after the Government executed a U-turn over its promise to ensure that rubbish would be picked up weekly from every address in the country.

The retreat came because of the cost of bringing back weekly rounds – estimated at more than £100m – and fears that the move would hit recycling levels. Ministers concluded it was not possible to force councils, half of which have some form of fortnightly collection, into line.

Mr Pickles looked on impassively as the Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced the U-turn in the Commons. But the package of measures fell well short of meeting the Tories' promise in opposition to restore weekly rounds – an omission that provoked heated clashes between the Cabinet colleagues.

A new waste strategy from Ms Spelman's department only said that the "public have a reasonable expectation that household-waste collections services should be weekly, particularly for smelly waste". Ms Spelman said £10m would be made available to councils to remove the most noxious food waste once a week and pledged to remove bureaucratic barriers that stopped councils from returning to weekly rounds.

Mr Pickles had previously denounced fortnightly collections as "unpopular and unhygienic" and claimed they were responsible for an "explosion" in the rat population.

But councils warned they would be hit by the cost of extra bin rounds and re-negotiating waste contracts – and the risk of higher landfill taxes and EU fines if recycling levels fell.

Ms Spelman said: "My department, in common with most departments, had to make some difficult choices and the public are well aware of that. Realistically we will do what we can.

"In the spirit of localism, central Government is all the time looking to enable local councils to respond to local needs and having a one-size-fits-all policy is not the right answer for that."

The retreat was mocked in the Commons, with the Labour MP for Exeter, Ben Bradshaw, taunting her: "Wasn't it always a nonsense for a Government to pay lip service to localism then in turn try to force local authorities to re-introduce weekly collections?"

John Woodcock, the Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, said: "Her Government promised they would bring back weekly bin collections across the country. Will she apologise to families who have been led up the garden path by what she said?"

John Redwood, a former Tory cabinet minister, said it was unacceptable to have rotting food waste "hanging around for up to two weeks in bins".

The strategy fulfilled a Tory manifesto promise by scrapping fines for "trivial" errors such as putting rubbish in the wrong containers or leaving dustbins open. Ministers had described the rules, which were introduced by Labour, as "bin taxes"; instead they will allow town halls to issue fixed-penalty notices of between £75 and £100 only to people who allow rubbish to pile up or for fly-tipping.

The Government will consult on introducing landfill restrictions on wood waste and review the case for bringing in landfill bans on other materials including metals, textiles and biodegradable waste. It also announced an action plan on anaerobic digestion, a process which can turn food and farm waste into energy, with the aim of encouraging the fledgling industry, creating "green" jobs and producing environmentally friendly energy.

Julian Kirby, of Friends of the Earth, said: "Cash-strapped councils will be relieved ministers have ditched ludicrous proposals to force them to provide weekly bin rounds – fortnightly collections are cheaper."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home