John Denham as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, used public money to sponsor "Waste Collection Achievement Awards" – which only went to councils adopting fortnightly collections. The awards were to be given out at a black tie champagne reception and dinner at the London Hilton. Councils also used taxpayers' money to pay for their town hall bin bullies to celebrate at the Hilton dinner and reception.
The whole event was a money-making racket for the Municipal Journal Eric Pickles boycotted the event, and has cancelled any future funding. His department will no longer support any measure which encourages fortnightly collections. All the shortlisted councils were fortnightly.
The following Parliamentary Question shows nearly £12,000 was spent by the DCLG sponsoring the event.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what costs his Department incurred in connection with its sponsorship of the (a)Environmental Innovation in Waste Collection Achievement of the Year award and (b) Reducing Health Inequalities Achievement of the Year award at the Municipal Journal Awards 2010 in respect of (i) sponsorship, (ii) publicity and (iii) costs incurred in (A) travel, (B) accommodation and (C) subsistence payments for Ministers, staff and guests of his Department at the awards ceremony.
The Environmental Innovation in Waste Collection Achievement of the Year award was a commitment of the previous Government and was jointly sponsored with DEFRA. The only charge to the Department was £11,744.13 including VAT which was paid to the Hemming Group Ltd. The Department incurred no travel, accommodation or subsistence for Ministers staff or guests. The judging of the awards and the criteria used do not reflect the priorities of the new Government.
Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles says:
"It beggars belief that John Denham and Labour ministers used thousands of pounds of taxpayers cash to celebrate slashing weekly rubbish collections.
"It just shows how out of touch the last government were that they were living it up in the middle of the recession whilst hardworking families were struggling to make ends meet."