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Weekly Bin Collections: A Basic Human Right?

Posted on the 30 September 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Weekly bin collections: A basic human right?

Some bins, in London. Photo credit:

We had weekly rubbish collections in 1875; the Labour government, after 1997, decided that we could do without them, intending us to recycle more instead. But now the government has set aside a £250 million fund to bring back weekly bin collections. Many councils only run fortnightly ones – but Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, has stated that people should vote out councils that do so. Under the new rules, local councils will have to guarantee weekly collections for the next five years to guarantee that they get a slice of the new fund. The news comes after a battle between Pickles and the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, who clashed publicly with Pickles over the need to widely reinstate weekly rubbish collections.

“Rubbish collection may not be seen as a sexy issue to the chattering classes in London, but it is of great concern to ordinary hardworking taxpayers,” said Matthew Elliott of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, quoted on The Daily Mail.

No more maggots. About bloody time, said a The Daily Telegraph editorial. Refuse collection is what made municipal government – for many people, it’s the only service they get from the government. Pickles is doing the right thing – and he’s doing it with money from elsewhere. No doubt people will try to thwart him, but “with this extra cash, councils have run out of excuses.”

“Middle England has been squeezed. It’s time to understand there’s a limit to what Middle England will take,” said Eric Pickles on The Daily Mail, adding “My aim has always been to pass the chicken tikka masala test, so the nation’s favorite meal can be consumed on Friday night safe from the worry that two weeks later its remains will still be rotting in the bottom of the bin.”

Maggots are fine. What would you do with £250 million? asked Chris White on LibDemVoice.  Give it to northern cities? Help the vulnerable? Well, if you’re Eric Pickles, you allocate it to bin collections. He’s being silly – “the term fortnightly is not what it seems” – councils do collect weekly, but they just alternate between waste and recycling. Landfill sites are being used up , so we need to encourage more recycling. White says that he’s had to “deal with maggots under both weekly and fortnightly systems.” And wheelie bins mean that you don’t get rats. Blowing so much money on bins in the middle of a harsh government settlement is mad. And worse, it sends out the message that recycling isn’t important. “See you at the incinerator.”

Maggots set worrying precedent. David Blackburn on The Spectator‘s Coffee House blog said that it’s not all smiles for Pickles. He still can’t force local authorities to make weekly collections – his victory has come “at the expense of accomodating cash-hungry local government, which could set a worrying precedent.”

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