Sunday, October 02, 2011

Eric Pickles and weekly bin collections

Shades of the Cones Hotline are hovering over the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Because the government initiatives so far announced to coincide with the event are distinctly underwhelming. An increase in the speed limit. Weekly rubbish collection. Is that all you've got?

Maybe this tells us something important about Cameron's Conservatives. If you take away the impossibilist fruitcake agenda - abolish all regulation of business, withdraw from Europe, withdraw from the modern world - it is hard to see what of substance is left.

As to the question of weekly rubbish collections, this is a perfect example of an issue that should be left to councils to decide. In cities it may make good sense to have weekly collections, but here is Harborough everyone seems happy with the fortnightly system and we have one of the highest recycling rates in the country. To spend £250m on helping councils provide a weekly service looks  a criminal waste at a time of such pressure on public finances.

Finally, Eric Pickles's claim that
"It’s a basic right for every English man and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait a fortnight for it to be collected."
looks like a parody of the modern fondness for inventing rights.

You throw out your stinking rubbish and someone else has a duty to deal with it for you? It hardly sounds a Conservative view. I am sure Mrs Thatcher always washed her milk bottles before she put them out.


dreamingspire said...

Nonsense, Mr Pickles, and same to you, Jonathan - weekly food waste collections (brown bin), weekly for other recycling (box and maybe, at your cost, green bin or bag), but fortnightly for non-recyclables (black bin). It is not anyone's right to put food waste in a weekly general waste bin. Mr Pickles should be providing extra funding only for adding weekly food waste collections in LA areas that don't currently do that.
OK, there will of course be some special cases in small difficult areas, but Eric is making a big mess here.

Mark said...

I'd always assumed that Eric Pickles never had much chicken tikka masala left to put in the bin after he'd finished eating anyway...

250 mil would provide a heck of a lot of more important local government services that bin collection.

Herbert Eppel said...

Very entertaining!
Did you see the Mercury Opinion piece on the subject? See

dreamingspire said...

I always preferred his cousin Wilfred with Mabel at the Table.

Alex Sabine said...

Agree on the centralising gimmickry of laying down how often councils should collect rubbish (although I'm sure this will be a popular intervention all the same!).

But while the idea of withdrawing from "Europe" (ie the EU) may be an "impossibilist fruitcake agenda" for Lib Dems and maybe still for the political class as a whole, that's clearly not how the general public sees it: recent polling shows clear majorities in favour of withdrawal. If we stopped regarding this view as "fruitcake" and engaged with debates about the EU in a less hysterical tone, we might not be so marginalised and irrelevant on this subject as far as the British public is concerned.

And the idea that Cameron-style Tories are calling for the "abolition of all regulation of business" is simply fanciful (let's leave this sort of thing to Tim Farron, shall we?).

The reality is that there is a genuine issue over the cumulative burden of regulation - including "nice things" like increased maternity and paternity leave, environmental laws etc as well as compliance/red tape - and there are unavoidable trade-offs between these and growth.

Particularly in the current economic climate, I think the party needs to weigh the benefits of new regulation a little more critically and sceptically against the costs, which are dispersed through the economy as a whole.

Indeed, Vince Cable argued this very thing back in 2004 (in the Orange Book); if it was true then, the case is surely more compelling today given the huge increase in regulation over the past 7 years.