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October 18, 2011 9:28 AM
Communities' Minister puts Council Leader on the spot over ABC
Cllr Paul Bettison, Leader of Bracknell Forest Council and the public face of the Local Government Association's longstanding campaign in favour of charging for household waste collections, according to the Parliamentary Communities and Local Government Select Committee, has been put on the spot by the unexpected Coalition Government's decision to set up a £250m fund to discourage councils such as Bracknell from operating a system of fortnightly alternate bin collections (ABC).
The new Weekly Collections Support Scheme announced by the Government will both support weekly collections and enable councils to invest in schemes and projects that will benefit the environment and raise recyling rates. Conservative Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, believes that contrary to Cllr Bettison, every household in England should have the right to have their rubbish collected every week.
The move to adopt ABC in Bracknell Forest in 2006 was taken without any debate or consultation and has failed to significantly increase recycling rates or make the cost savings that were announced at the time. The lack of sufficient information about the basis on which the decision was made or its impact on subsequent performance levels or costs has made it almost impossible to monitor the progress of the new system.
Ray Earwicker, Local Party spokesman, said 'he understood Cllr Bettison's rejection of the Government's proposals out of hand on the grounds of the additional costs involved was both unwelcome and ill-conceived. He should be giving greater thought to how the fund might be used to increase existing recycling levels and lower landfill costs by reducing the amount of food waste, for example, sent to landfill.
Other local authorities such as Windsor and Maidenhead, Surrey Heath and Wokingham had managed to contain costs and increase recycling levels without dropping weekly collections. Why had Bracknell Forest not managed to do the same? Thanks to the adoption of ABC by Cllr Bettison, local council taxpayers were now paying even more to have their bins emptied but only receiving half the service.'