DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg claims Sheffield Council chiefs could receive more money than they think from a Government fund to protect weekly bin collections.
Hallam MP Mr Clegg has queried why the council’s Labour administration has not applied for a share of a £250 million national cashpot announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
Ruling city councillors say money from the fund will not be available until October – too late to incorporate in this year’s budget – and that Sheffield would probably receive only a maximum one per cent of the total, spread over three years.
Switching to fortnightly bin collections would save £2.4 million a year, while Mr Pickles’ fund would provide just £800,000 to £900,000 per year, Labour says.
Mr Clegg said: “They don’t appear to want to make a bid for a share of this funding. Sheffield Council is entitled to apply.
“It doesn’t make sense to turn your back on support like this and press ahead with a change to fortnightly bin collections that is going to be inconvenient to households and will cost money to explain.
“Unlike with normal funding announcements, where Sheffield typically gets one per cent of the national total, it is not certain all councils will apply – so there may be more available for Sheffield than Labour anticipates.”
Mr Clegg said the council is ‘unlikely to save a penny over the next year’ from fortnightly collections as there will be the £400,000 cost of communication with households plus fees of up to £1 million to Veolia and the fact the change is not coming in immediately.
Ann Bentley, secretary of Lower Wincobank Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, who is opposed to the bin change, said: “I don’t think the council should be going to fortnightly collections anyway – it will cause large problems and they should find other savings elsewhere.
“They should also apply for a share of the funding to help preserve the service.”
But Julie Dore, Sheffield Council leader, said: “It is true savings we will make in the first year of alternate weekly waste and recycling collections will be smaller due to the delay in starting.
“But after that the £2.4 million will be saved every year. Nick Clegg is being disingenuous about this issue. Does he know Sheffield will get a larger share of money? To say Sheffield ‘may’ receive some extra is not good enough. We need to plan our budget.”