Coffee House

Eric’ll fix it

30 September 2011

9:10 AM

30 September 2011

9:10 AM

The papers report that Eric Pickles has beaten Caroline Spelman: bins will be collected
on a weekly basis. Back in June, James reported how the DCLG and DEFRA were opposed to
Pickles’ plan and that Spelman, who once advocated weekly collections in Opposition, had gone Whitehall native. It was a test, James said, of the government’s ability to master its
civil servants.

Pickles was very closely associated with the pledge and the impasse threatened to damage his burgeoning reputation in office. Now he is gloating in his hour of victory. “I may make passing
reference to the scheme in my speech,” he told the Today programme in that garrulous manner of his. He has also written an article on ConHome, where he says that bin collection is the most visible local
service – and therefore one of enormous electoral significance. And as a coda to that, he telle the Mail that “there’s a limit to
what Middle England will take”.

But, it’s not all smiles for the Chum. The Mail, which has campaigned on this issue, notes that Pickles cannot force local authorities to make collections. Looser Whitehall control will
become the norm under the coalition’s localism bill, but Pickles is clear that communities should pressure councils into action or vote for change if necessary. More importantly, Pickles has
reallocated £250 million from his departmental budget to incentivise councils to make collections, and fund waste separation projects to appease DEFRA. Pickles’ victory has come at the
expense of accommodating cash-hungry local government, which could set a worrying precedent.

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