Councils that refuse to restore weekly bin collections have been warned their Government funding could be cut in a move which would hit all but one of Yorkshire’s local authorities.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he saw no plausible reason why bins should not be collected every week and would be “looking closely” at the grants given to councils that fail to do so.
Nearly all of the region’s local authorities already collect general household rubbish fortnightly to be sent to landfill, with recycling collected on each alternate week.
Households in the East Riding, Hull and Leeds are set to switch to the fortnightly cycle from next year and only Bradford council has no plans to scrap its weekly rounds.
Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for environment, said the new system was being introduced to help the council to meet its recycling targets and reduce its landfill tax bill – and said the Government’s insistence on weekly collections was “fundamentally wrong”.
“They seem to think there is a public attitude that the black bin is sacrosanct and has to be collected every week,” said Coun Dobson (Lab, Garforth and Swillington), whose ward will be among the first to switch.
“But what I’m hearing from people is: ‘Why can’t we have more recycling opportunities?’
“We’re putting precious recyclables in the ground never to be seen again and paying for the privilege.
“From both an environmental perspective and a financial perspective, it’s absolutely the right thing to do and we can’t understand why the Government is so hung up on this.”
Leeds City Council spent £9.2m on landfill tax last year and the bill is set to rise by £1.5m annually. It aims to recycle 55 per cent of the city’s waste by 2016.
Alternate weekly collections will be rolled out to 40,000 homes across the city from April and to 80 per cent of households over the next two years.
Homes in Hull will also switch to the system from April and East Riding councillors are next week expected to approve plans to follow suit.
Mr Pickles has branded the notion that fortnightly rubbish collections save money or encourage recycling a “Labour myth”.
In a statement, he said: “Weekly bin collections are one of the most visible frontline services and there is no plausible reason why councils shouldn’t deliver them to hard-working residents.
“We have demolished the Labour myth that fortnightly bin collections were necessary to save money or increase recycling.
“If councils don’t get their house in order and deliver this basic public service then they will be held to account at the ballot box.
“We will be looking closely at the central government funding for bin collections; councils receive £28 billion in formula grant funding – it’s not unreasonable that they provide a decent bin service in return.”
More than half of English councils are reported to run some form of fortnightly bin collection.
The Government is providing £250m through the weekly collection support scheme to those that maintain or revert to a weekly service. Officials said 85 councils and more than six million households were set to benefit.
Mr Pickles has previously said: “It is a basic right for every English man and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait a fortnight for it to be collected.”