England can breathe easy: bins to be emptied weekly

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A deeply unpopular money-saving measure was relaxed on Friday when the British government promised councils new funding to restore weekly rubbish collections in England.

A £250 million ($390 million, 290 million euro) fund will allow local authorities to switch from fortnightly to weekly bin rounds.

The move follows a political row over bin collections, although the government said councils will need to guarantee weekly collections for five years and improve their recycling practices to be eligible for the cash.

Residents have complained that fortnightly collections lead to stinking rubbish being left outside homes and encourage the spread of rats.

When it was in opposition in 2008, Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party promised to restore weekly bin collections if it came to power.

But the Conservatives and their coalition government partners the Liberal Democrats came under fire in June following a review of waste policy, when the government admitted it could not force councils to restore weekly collections.

The minister responsible for communities, Eric Pickles, said ahead of the funding announcement: "Weekly rubbish collections are the most visible of all frontline services and I believe every household in England has a basic right to have their rubbish collected every week."

Friends of the Earth attacked the move to restore weekly collections, saying it was "an astonishing waste of taxpayers' money and will have a disastrous impact on recycling".

The environmental group argues that the reintroduction of weekly collections will remove the incentive to recycle waste rather than throw it away.

© 2011 AFP

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