THE leader of Swindon Council has defended the upcoming changes to waste collections after a stinging attack on the policy of fortnightly pick-ups by a Tory Government minister.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles MP issued his ‘bin bible’ to all local authorities at the weekend, saying it was important taxpayers felt they were getting value for money from their council tax.
Mr Pickles said fortnightly collections were a misery for residents and accused local authorities of spreading myths as justification for reducing the number of waste pick-ups, branding them ‘bin barons’.
“This Government is standing up for hard-working people and getting rid of barmy bin policies which made families’ lives hell,” he said.
“Rubbish collections are the most visible service that people get for their £120-a-month Council Tax bill. People deserve a comprehensive weekly service in return for their taxes.
“We have exposed 10 false fictions fortnightly bin barons cling to as excuses for cutting services. If councils adopt this new guide as their ‘bin bible’, they will be able to save taxpayers’ money and still increase the frequency and quality of rubbish and recycling collections.”
But David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said the decision to switch to fortnightly recycling collections, which is due to come into force next month, was vital to cut costs.
The move will also see a charge of £40 implemented for residents who want their green waste collected from March.
“I would like to invite Mr Pickles to come down to take a look at the financial situation in Swindon,” said Coun Renard.
“He is taking a look at the situation from one perspective while we are working on the frontline.
“We are one of the lowest funded authorities in the country from the Government and have one of the lowest council tax rates, therefore we are more stretched than most.
“In total we have to provide about 200 services, of which adult services are a big chunk, while also having a legal responsibility to balance the books.
“There were similar things said when we introduced the fortnightly collection for residual waste but now I get no correspondence saying it is a problem.
“If we were to go back to weekly collections then we would have to hire more people and buy more trucks and I think there are far better ways of spending the limited funds we have.”