Council makes bid for wheelie bin scheme

WHEELIE bins could soon be a common site on the drives and grass verges of homes across East Cambridgeshire after the council announced it would be bidding for cash from the government.

Officials at East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) have bid for �5million from the Department for Communities and Local Government to fund a fortnightly two-bin scheme, collecting paper, glass, cardboard, food and garden waste.

The authority should know by October if its bid has been successful, with a set of new wheelie bins potentially delivered to eligible homes by 2014.

Should the bid be successful, it is estimated that the new system would increase the district’s recycling rate from just 37 percent to 45-50 per cent, crucial if the authority is to avoid possible financial penalties from the EU for missing its target.

Councillor Richard Hobbs, chairman of the Community and Environment Sub-Committee, said: “Over recent months we have been carrying out a review of our waste and recycling service in East Cambridgeshire. It has become abundantly clear that if we are to increase our recycling rates to the levels of our neighbouring districts, we would have to make a significant investment in the service. The opportunity which this Government funding presents is one we could not ignore.

“In simple terms, our recycling performance would improve dramatically with thousands of tonnes of waste being diverted from landfill. We will also get a simple, efficient and environmentally friendly waste service delivered at a stroke.”

Cllr Hobbs added however, that the weekly collection of black bag waste would remain in place even if the bid for new wheelie bins was successful.

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The authority caused a furore back in 2010 when it opted to scrap the kerbside collection of plastic bottles in a bid to save thousands of pounds.

The council added that, if its bid was unsuccessful, it would probably have to switch to a fortnightly waste collection from 2015 as maintaining a weekly collection was “prohibitively costly”.

Liberal Democrat leader Ian Allen was critical of the plans however, saying the Government was ploughing cash into an “inefficient system”.

“I can quite understand why the council is bidding for the money because of the situation they are in with regards to recycling targets but what I think is appalling is that the Government is pouring money into supporting an inefficient system.

“All the evidence shows that maintaining a weekly black bag residual waste collection discourages people from recycling and costs a lot of money. I think it is criminal in a time of financial stringency that the Government is helping out those authorities that have promised to keep a weekly collection.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Would you welcome a wheelie bin system to East Cambs? Write to the Ely Standard, 38 Market Street, Ely, CB7 4LS or email