Vir Cantium

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Is Eric Pickles Rewarding Failure Now?

Eric Pickles, British politician and Chairman ...

Eric Pickles: (make up your own caption)

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has come forward with another potentially popular and localist announcement, pre-conference:

Weekly bins are on the way back!

Minister pledges £250m fund to PAY councils to dump fortnightly rounds

Local authorities will have to guarantee weekly bin rounds for five years to qualify for funding
[…]
In a victory for householders and the Daily Mail, ministers unveiled a £250million fund to restore them.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said councils will now have ‘no excuse’ to maintain hugely unpopular fortnightly schemes. ‘My view has always been that people expect a weekly collection,’ he said.

He cannot force town halls to go back to weekly collections, but made it clear that voters should throw out councils which do not – a provocative suggestion, given that many of those that have gone fortnightly are Conservative controlled.

Mr Pickles told the Daily Mail: ‘I’ve had council leaders sitting at this very table who claim their public like a fortnightly collection and are very supportive. Well, good luck to them. Come the elections, there can be no excuses.’

Well, that’s nice. Nice if you’re the sort of council who simply cut the collections to fortnightly, with the spurious justification of ‘going green’, and faced a revolt from residents who would be equally rebellious (and understandably so) against any increase in council tax to restore what they thought they were already paying for.

In other words, this morning you will be delighted if you are a council that messed up (sorry) and are now being bailed out; rewarded for your failure.

Where I live, however, I’m not so sure they’ll be so pleased. We have fortnightly collections of general waste and non-paper recyclable stuff, and weekly pick-ups of kitchen waste and paper. Complaints have been very few – honestly: in some council areas the local rag’s letter pages would be bulging week after week with angry missives, ours have barely registered one. The reason is that the council has done it properly: still picking up the smelly, rat-friendly organic waste weekly, and thus immediately dealing with the main gripe of ‘fortnightly’ collections. In doing so, they have surely forsaken some of the savings that could have been made by the Foxtrot-Yankee approach adopted elsewhere.

So, screw up and you will now have been saved by our chum Eric. Well run councils, on the other hand, will likely get nothing extra for their efforts of listening to their residents, some of whom will now have their expectations raised unnecessarily.

As one of the latter councils you might also be somewhat miffed that Mr Pickles has ‘found’ £250m but is not just putting it into the local government formula grant for councils to spend according to their local priorities. ‘Localism’ I think it’s called.

(Pic. credit: The Health Hotel)

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