Over on Twitter @JohnPrescott and others are doing a very good job gathering examples on the #wereallbinthistogether hashtage of what the £250m just announced by Eric Pickles to facilitate a return to weekly bin collections* could otherwise have been spent on. Going a long way towards reinstating EMA (cost £380m) for example.
*That’s rubbish-to-landfill bin collections by the way, not recycling.
Pickles justifies this by saying ‘no-one should have to wait two weeks for the remains of their chicken tikka massala to be taken away’. Leaving aside the fact that curry actually tastes even better the day after (tarka dall on toast anyone?), many councils are introducing separate weekly food waste collections. South Oxfordshire district council, for example, came top in an annual poll of councils on letsrecycle.com, with a recycling and composting rate of almost 71%. It has alternate-week collection of rubbish and recycling and a weekly food waste pick-up.
I’d be interested to hear what local people thing about this. We all remember the front page of the Bristol Evening Post a few years with Lib Dem Councillor Gary Hopkins as ‘King Rat’ after stories about rats and maggots running amok in people’s brown food waste bins. There is an issue in parts of inner-city Bristol where there are large families and lots of HMOs who produce more landfill rubbish than an average household (and, it is accepted, tend to recycle less). I frequently get complaints about over-flowing bins, extra bags splitting or being torn apart by rats, cats, foxes and other creatures strewing rubbish all over the pavement, and the fly-tipping of household waste. There’s also a problem in some streets where people don’t want lots of bins cluttering their front gardens/ pavements. And isn’t it time the main recycling centre at St Philips got a makeover? It’s always crowded, and difficult to find where to put things. I thought there’d be a separate area for WEEE, but was just told to put my old vacuum cleaner in an unmarked skip.
The announcement by Pickles also sits somewhat uncomfortably with his professed zeal for localism. “We’re offering councils a deal. [Pickles writes, on Conservative Home]. If they commit to providing weekly waste collection for the next five years, they can take their share of this new quarter of a billion pound fund.” Caroline Flint has since pointed out that Pickles is only funding councils for two-and-a-half years but they have to commit to five years…
Mainly though, this is just an excuse to re-run the Pickles in a Bin picture.