Eric Pickles and Caroline Spelman clash over weekly bin collections
Jul 23 2010 By Jonathan Walker
A battle over bin collections has broken out between a Meriden Tory MP Caroline Spelman and her government colleagues, according to reports.
Mrs Spelman, the Environment Minister, has clashed with Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles over weekly bin collections.
Mr Pickles annoyed officials in Mrs Spelman’s department by announcing an end to “bin taxes” and fortnightly recycling. He wants to encourage scores of councils to move back to weekly bin rounds, after criticising “unpopular and unhygienic” new regimes.
But Mrs Spelman is under pressure to hit stiff recycling targets.
And rubbish collection is the responsibility of her department, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - which says councils are free to decide for themselves how often to empty bins.
Yorkshireman Mr Pickles has made a virtue of his reputation for plain speaking. He once defended David Cameron against claims the Tory leader was too posh to be Prime Minister, saying: “I don’t think you should look down your nose at someone who had the misfortune to go to Eton.”
The Local Government Secretary led a campaign against fortnightly bin collections in opposition, and warned last month: “Fortnightly collections are unpopular and unhygienic. It’s the traditional weekly bin round people want.”
He has now ordered the Audit Commission to scrap guidance to councils which encouraged them to scrap weekly collections and claimed that a fortnightly system would not encourage flies.
The Department for the Environment has ordered a review into bin collections - but this is expected to conclude that it should become easier for councils to reinstate weekly collections if they choose, and not that they should be forced to introduce weekly collections.
In a show of unity this week, the two ministers issued a joint statement confirming a previously announced decision to axe Labour’s controversial plan to impose new bin taxes.
An Environment Department spokesman said: “Weekly bin collections are for local authorities to decide. As far as I’m aware, this is the position of the Department for Communities and Local Government as well.”