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Audit Commission told to stop opposing weekly bin collections

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has instructed the town hall quango, the Audit Commission, to stop forcing and cajoling councils into scrapping weekly bin collections and imposing draconian bin policies. New evidence has emerged how the cuts to the frequency of collections were not a ‘local decision’ by councils at all, but effectively imposed by Labour Ministers in Whitehall.

Parliamentary Questions have revealed that the Audit Commission has issued a “Waste Management Quick Guide” to councils across the country.

It instructs town halls:

  • "What should councils do?... Sampled waste bins to find out what is in the bin "
  • "What should councils do?... not taking side waste and closed lid policies are a start"
  • “Alternate week collection makes it even easier to recycle"
  • "The minimum life cycle of the fly is 14 days in the UK, so a fortnightly collection should be okay"
  • "Simply restricting the amount of waste that will be taken (such as closed bin lid policy, no side waste or a maximum number of black bags) all help"
  • "Some councils have been more progressive – such as only emptying the refuse bin on a fortnightly basis or issuing smaller bins."
  • The quango has also produced a bizarre "history of waste" noting that weekly bin collections date back to 1354 (before being scrapped by Labour).

Further Audit Commission documents reveal how the move to fortnightly collections was purely designed to cut costs for councils by reducing the frequency of service. Councils were also threatened with being
marked down in their inspection reports if they didn’t comply.

The Secretary of State will today write to the Audit Commission requiring them to repeal this guidance. If the Audit Commission refuse, the Secretary of State has a legal power to ‘direct’ the Commission. This follows on from the decision of the new Government to cancel Labour’s plans for new bin taxes on family homes.

Eric Pickles says:

“There was a clear conspiracy by Labour Ministers and Whitehall bin bullies to kill off weekly bin collections. This demolishes the Labour’s claim that Britain’s barmy bin policies were a local
decision: these cuts were imposed from above, with town halls left to take the blame. Cynical politics like this from Labour has destroyed trust in government and undermined the reputation of local councils.

“Gordon Brown hiked up council tax and slashed frontline services like weekly bin collections. The new Government will work with councils to freeze council tax and help them improve the frequency of rubbish and recycling collections. Let’s use incentives and rewards to increase recycling, rather than Labour’s cuts, fines and taxes. Families now pay a fortune in council tax – it’s time they got a better deal.”


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