Council invited to apply for weekly bins funding

Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles.
Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles.
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COMMUNITIES Secretary Eric Pickles has launched his £250 million fund to preserve weekly bin collections - but Sheffield Council said it has still received no details of what share it would receive to protect the current service.

The Tory cabinet member is inviting councils to bid for a share of the funding to ensure refuse collections are still carried out every week and also to fund rewards for residents who recycle.

The fund to preserve weekly collections was first announced at autumn’s Conservative Party conference.

Mr Pickles described a weekly bin service as a ‘basic right’, saying: “The public are fed up of all the bin dos and bin don’ts. They just want a simple service, which is why the Government is making sure councils can offer a good weekly collection and make it easier to go green.”

However, Coun Julie Dore, Sheffield Council’s Labour leader, said: “The Government has still said nothing new to us about what financial help we could receive, despite repeated requests for information.”

Coun Dore has said that if money was offered to cover the £2.44 million annual cost of retaining weekly collections, rather than switching to fortnightly, the council would take it - provided no strings were attached.

Labour fears funding will only be offered for a year - but that in return a commitment would have to be made to keep the service for five years.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Liberal Democrat opposition leader, said: “Labour should put an application in for the funding from the Government and see what they are offered - or just admit they would prefer to bring in fortnightly collections full stop.

“The longer they wait, the less savings they could make from bringing in fortnightly collections in the first year.

“There has to be a consultation period with staff and up to £1 million must to be paid to contractor Veolia to cover the cost of changeover.”

Lib Dems have also criticised Labour for limiting council estate residents’ free bulky waste collections to one per year - which they fear could increase fly tipping.

Coun Dore said: “Most people only need it once a year.”