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Pledge to keep wheelie bins off our streets

PUBLISHED: 11:45 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:35 23 August 2010

COUNCIL bosses have vowed not to give in to government pressure and switch to controversial fortnightly waste collection. Gravesham leader Mike Snelling has promised to keep weekly waste and recycling collections to prevent Gravesham s streets being line

COUNCIL bosses have vowed not to give in to government pressure and switch to controversial fortnightly waste collection.

Gravesham leader Mike Snelling has promised to keep weekly waste and recycling collections to prevent Gravesham's streets being lined with ugly bins.

He pointed to the unpopularity of wheelie bins - due to the large number of terraced streets in the town which have no rear access - as a major reason for weekly collections.

Cllr Snelling said: "Fortnightly collections would mean wheelie bins and we know people don't want their streets littered with ugly bins all week."

The issue was raised after the leader of neighbouring Dartford Council, Jeremy Kite, accused independent body the Audit Commission of threatening poor reviews if his council did not move to a fortnightly scheme.

This is despite a survey in 2007 which showed 94 per cent of people in Dartford wanted weekly collections. Mr Kite said: "It is part of their bullying campaign, which they have directed at me for the past two years. I am here to do what the people want us to do, not what someone up in Whitehall says we should be doing. If the people come around and say they want fortnightly collections then that's what we'll do."

Gravesham Borough Council officers also questioned the relevance of national recycling figures.

Mr Snelling added: "It is a fact that at Kent County Council we sat down and discussed that the recycling figures are complete nonsense.

"This is because a lot of people with the Pepperhill Waste site so close choose to visit there to do their recycling, which is not included in the stats."

The latest figures show that the national recycling rate is 35 per cent while Gravesham Borough Council is achieving 22 per cent.

Mr Snelling said that below-average recycling rates would not force him to scrap the system people wanted, adding: "We didn't carry out a survey like Dartford but at the local elections we pledged to keep weekly collections following what we had heard from people on the doorstep."

An Audit Commission spokesperson said: "The Audit Commission strongly rejects allegations that it forces or cajoles councils about when they should empty bins, or on any issue. Nor has it ever suggested that public opinion should be ignored.

"The commission has issued no guidance on when local waste collection should take place. It is for local authorities to decide on their approach, taking all relevant factors into account. Our job is to hold councils to account for the value for money and quality of service that they achieve.

"We also share examples of councils who are succeeding in this, to support improvement elsewhere.

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