Government eases pressure on councils to restore weekly bin …

Efforts to make councils restore household weekly bin collections are to be abandoned, as ministers fail to reverse the trend towards fortnightly waste rounds.

There will be no new initiatives to persuade local authorities to bring back weekly pick-ups of domestic waste, despite a high profile pledge made by the Conservatives to preserve the “basic right” of householders to have their rubbish collected each week.

“Ineffective” and “expensive” funding for weekly bin collections is not likely to survive the latest spending review, a source has told the Daily Mail, as unprotected departments are asked to find savings of up to 40% as part of public spending cuts of 20 billion.

Under the coalition government, then communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles announced a controversial 250 million fund to support councils to keep or return to weekly collections for residual waste.

But it failed to convince councils to switch back from fortnightly collections of black bin rubbish, with local authorities claiming it was too expensive to do so, they boosted recycling rates and residents were happy with the schemes.

At the time just five councils – out of 85 which secured funding – were named by the Communities and Local Government as having plans to return to weekly collections: Stoke-on-Trent City Council; Manchester City Council; Rochford District Council; Canterbury City Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

Manchester has denied it had ever had such plans, instead spending the money on improving existing waste collection services for residents.

Stoke-on-Trent ended its plans for a return to weekly collections last year after a feasibility study revealed it would cost around 34 million more than the council’s existing household waste and recycling scheme – far more than the grant it had been offered.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it continues to support frequent bin collections.

“The Government encourages councils to support the wishes of local people, many of whom believe every household in England has a basic right to have their rubbish taken away every week,” said the spokeswoman.

“The Government continues to champion frequent and convenient bin collections which protect the environment and public health.

We will also be working with local authorities to make recycling easier for people.

“This department also published ‘guidance on weekly rubbish collections’ which showed that local authorities can make savings while not harming the quality of the service that local taxpayers receive.”

Peter Box, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to collecting bins, as what works in an inner city suburb won’t necessarily work in the countryside.

“Decisions are best made at a local level with councils working with residents to find the best solution for them.

“We know this local approach works as our own polling shows almost 80% of people are happy with the way their bins are collected and satisfaction rates are broadly the same regardless of whether people have weekly or alternate weekly collections.”

But he said collecting and disposing of waste and recycling had become the third highest cost service for councils and spending would have to significantly increase to meet EU recycling targets of 50%.

The 250 million provided in the weekly bin collections fund would “go a long way” to helping local authorities meet the future pressures on their waste collecting services.

Stoke-on-Trent was the only council which planned to use the government money for a wholesale switch back to weekly bin collections, with the scheme now not paying for any councils to make a major shift back to weekly pick-ups.

But the Government has insisted its funding, which is ultimately being paid out to 81 councils, has safeguarded weekly waste collections for six million households.

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