South Kesteven District Council: ‘Our bin collection service is first class and local people are very happy with it’

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South Kesteven District Council has hit back at claims that by not providing weekly black bin collections, they are offering a ‘second-rate service’.

On Friday the Journal revealed that SKDC would NOT be tapping into an available £250m pot of cash that was created as an incentive to re-start weekly general waste bin collections.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said any local authority that did not take the offer was ‘kicking local people in the teeth’ and offering a ‘second-rate service’.

But Grantham’s authority has reacted angrily to the Government claims, which it says are unfair and potentially very costly to the local tax-payer in the long-term.

Portfolio holder for healthy environment, Cllr John Smith, said SKDC was far from offering a ‘second-rate’ service, and that exactly the opposite was true.

He said feedback from local people was that they are happy with an efficient and cost-effective service.

“Our staff have told me they cannot recall the last time they had to deal with a complaint or query over collection frequencies, and we have taken a number of calls since the latest announcement imploring the Council to maintain its existing, efficient and well-established collection service,” said Cllr Smith.

He added that as well as there being no demand for weekly bin collections, there would also be a massive cost consideration which could ultimately lead to higher council tax bills.

“If we were to opt for weekly collections it is likely that we would receive funding of £700,000 in the first year only. But our costs for staff, fuel, tax, repairs and licences would be almost £675,000 not only in the first year but every year after that.

“We would also need to find £1.4 million in the first year to buy more collection lorries and we would also need to create a new depot to house them.

“In total we would have to find £3.2 million extra in the first year and the added cost would have to be found every year after that. The figures just don’t add up and that is why four out of five councils up and down the country are saying no to any suggestion of change.

“At a time when funding to all councils is being reduced as the Government deals with the national deficit – South Kesteven has lost more than £2 million in two years – there is no appetite to change our bin service which local people say is already first class,” said Cllr Smith.

The current alternate week recycling and non-recycling system was introduced in 2007 and satisfaction rates are high.

“Over the last five years we have also seen a rise in recycling rates of almost 10% - from 41.9% to 51.5%. This is clearly environmentally desirable and is closely linked with our twin bin system which encourages people to sort their refuse,” Cllr Smith added.