Britain's rubbish: cold and holidays pile up trash

4th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain faced an "unacceptable" backlog of rubbish Tuesday after a cold snap and a series of public holidays meant that some households have gone for up to four weeks without trash collection.

Snow and freezing temperatures paralysed many trash collection vehicles throughout Britain's coldest December since 1890, leaving bin bags to pile up in the streets of several cities.

Collections were also cancelled in some areas because Christmas and New Year's Day fell on successive Saturdays, meaning there were extra public holidays during the following weeks that also affected services.

Local Government Minister Bob Neill told the Daily Telegraph that councils had to show "more initiative", adding: "We need to think again about how we maintain these basic services over the holiday period."

One of the worst-hit areas was Birmingham, England's second city, where industrial action since December 20 by refuse collectors in a pay dispute has compounded the problem.

With some Birmingham households waiting four weeks for a rubbish collection, the council said refuse workers had been working non-stop for the last three days and the situation would be back to normal by Friday.

In the southwestern city of Exeter, where rubbish has also been on the streets for nearly a month, full collections will not return until January 24.

The Local Government Association said councils had done a "terrific job" in difficult circumstances.

But Charlotte Linacre, campaign manager for pressure group the Taxpayers' Alliance, told the BBC that the uncollected rubbish represented a "massive failure" by local authorities and was "unacceptable".

The rubbish crisis has added to the grim mood in Britain as the coalition government imposes tough austerity measures -- including on public services -- in a bid to reduce the country's huge deficit.

© 2011 AFP

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