Norfolk councils plan to stick with fortnightly bins collections

Councils in the region have vowed to stick with fortnightly bin collections, despite government plans to revert to weekly pick-ups.

Local government minister Bob Neill has said he wants to 'reverse the legacy of Labour's savage cutbacks to weekly rubbish collections'.

Under the plans, ministers will issue fresh guidance, including offers of incentives and support, to town halls in the next few weeks on how they can bring back weekly services.

The news comes after scores of councils across the country struggled to collect bins due to last month's snow and icy weather. The problem was exacerbated by the number of bank holidays over the Christmas period.

In this region, most bin collections are now back on track although some people are still waiting for their bins to be collected for the first time in weeks.

Despite the recent problems, however, most of Norfolk's councils have said fortnightly collections have helped improve their recycling rates and they would not consider returning to a weekly service.

Eric Seward, North Norfolk District Council's cabinet portfolio holder for environmental services, said: 'Alternate weekly collections work very effectively. To return to weekly waste collections would cost this council an additional �1m a year and other services would suffer significant cuts as a result. At a time when we all need to be reducing costs, it's simply not something that we could consider.'

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William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council, said the fortnightly system saw recycling rates soar from just four per cent in 2002 to 44pc today.

Six of Norfolk's seven district councils, plus Waveney District Council, alternate between waste and recycling collections. Food waste is also collected weekly in Norwich City Council area and in some parts of Broadland.

West Norfolk Council, however, has always stuck with weekly rubbish collections and then picks up recycling bins every other week.

Brian Long, the council's environment portfolio holder, said: 'We support weekly collections because we know that's what the public wants.'

A spokesman for the department of communities and local government said it would not force councils to reinstate weekly collections, but had scrapped the Audit Commission and removed all the incentives to cut services.