By Will Date
Sheffield city council has said that the support offered under the governments 250 million weekly waste collection fund will not be enough to save weekly waste collections in the city.
Last month, the Labour-run city council took the decision to switch from a weekly residual waste collection service to alternate-week collections in an attempt to cut around 12.5 million from its budget over the next five years.
The decision was not been welcomed by opposition councillors, who claimed the move represented political point-scoring against the coalition government.
But, calls for the council to attempt to salvage the weekly collections by applying to the weekly collections fund, which was originally announced by communities secretary Eric Pickles in September 2011 (see letsrecycle.com story), have also been rejected, as councillors say that any funding from government will not be sufficient to plug the gaps in the citys budget.
The council also claims it was unable to gain further information about the criteria for receiving funding, having written to Eric Pickles four months ago and not receiving a response.
Following Mr Pickles announcement of the criteria for funding earlier this month (see letsrecycle.com story) Liberal Democrat councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, said: Liberal Democrats are calling on the council to confirm that they will put in a bid to ensure Sheffield receives its share of the 250 million coalition government fund on offer.
It seems the only reason weekly bin collections and recycling services are being cut is so dogmatic Labour councillors in the Town Hall can blame the Coalition Government. Its time Labour put local services and jobs before party politics. We are calling on them to think again.
“The 250 million fund spread across all the local authorities who are interested would not be enough”
Sheffield city council
However the Labour council maintains that unless the funding can cover the 2.44 million needed per year to keep weekly collections going, they will not be applying for funding from the DCLG.
A spokesman for the council said: There was nothing in the governments announcement that suggested it would be more than a one off payment that would cover the five year period. The 250 million fund spread across all the local authorities who are interested would not be enough.
The council also claims that a review it conducted into the citys waste services showed that many residents wanted the council to make recycling easier for them, while many said they would not miss the weekly collection. According to Sheffield city councils research, 58% of the residents surveyed said that their bins were usually less than half full on collection day and that 60% of councils across the UK currently offer an alternate week collection.
The council have also confirmed that the monthly green waste collection service carried out by the councils contractor Veolia is also set to be dropped. However, the council are currently in talks with Veolia about the possibility of the waste contractor charging residents directly for green waste collections.
A council spokesperson said: Sheffield has many residents who do not have gardens, so we felt it was unfair to charge people for a service that didnt benefit everyone. Talks with Veolia about charging for the service are at an early stage so we cannot say what the outcome will be.
The city council will pass a formal decision on the waste collection services at a meeting of the Cabinet on 15th February 2012 which will be brought before the full council when the 2012/13 budget is set in March.