The Western Morning News has carried out a survey of councils in the west country to see what prospects there are of a return to weekly bin collections given the financial incentives that will be on offer. Cornwall, Torby and Torridge already have weekly collections and presumably will be encouraged to keep them. North Devon, run by independents, and Labour-run Exeter are spurning the offer.
But more disappointing is the dismissive attitude of Conservative councils – Torbay, South Hams, Mid Devon and East Devon. Before anyone else reminds me it is a local decision. But whose local decision? Have the Conservative Groups on those councils been consulted on the offer? They can't have been as we don't know what the offer is yet – although we will pretty soon.
So East Devon's spokesman said: "The waste and recycling board has stated that they do not intend to alter the system as it is working extremely well." Oh, yes. Who elected the Waste and Recycling Board? Isn't this something the elected councillors might have a view on? Is the board really so complacent that it doesn't feel the need even to wait for the proposal to see if it could offer an improvement?
Then we have South Hams District Council spokesman who says that "the cost of reverting to a weekly collection would be hard to justify to council taxpayers." Oh, yes. What would the cost be? Off course the spokesman doesn't have a clue as he doesn't know what the deal would be and what share of the £250 million South Hams would get and what they would have to do to get it.
Mid Devon District Council spokesman said: "The council will continue with the existing arrangement whereby approximately 80 per cent of households have an alternate weekly collection of refuse and recycling and 20 per cent of rural households receive weekly collections based on the efficient use and capacity of vehicles. The authority has received no further information regarding the £250 million that was referred to by Mr Pickles." So shouldn't they wait to decide when they do get the further information.
Torbay Council spokesman says the Pickles offer "does not encourage recycling". Wait and see. There will be incentives included to boost recycling.
This isn't just about bins being emptied. This is about bureuacrats rather than councillors being in charge, inertia to changng the way arrangements are made and a blinkered refusal even to consider the alternatives.