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Waste Collection

Volume 627: debated on Monday 17 July 2017

13. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on ensuring that local councils meet legislative requirements on waste collection. (900514)

There is close collaboration between my Department and Ministers at DEFRA on waste collection issues. Ultimately, it is for local councils to determine when collections take place, but in doing so I would strongly urge them to consider the wishes of local people.

Prior to the recent local elections, and against the wishes of local people, Powys County Council took the decision to reduce waste collection from fortnightly to three-weekly. What more can my hon. Friend to do ensure that local people’s views are taken into account on waste issues to prevent potential health hazards?

My hon. Friend has been a champion in the House on this issue. As he knows, it is a devolved matter in Wales. Ultimately, it is for local councils to decide on the frequency of collections. In England, we have done a great deal to proactively support councils to respond to the wishes of local people on this issue. I would say to my hon. Friend that this is the service people associate most with their local council, and the council should be mindful of the fact that local people should certainly be consulted before any changes are made.

Rather than lecturing councils about their legislative requirements, would the Minister like to come up to Barrow and Furness—or so many other councils, particularly across the north of England—to see the scale of the cuts that these councils are having to implement and the near impossibility of being able to balance a budget in these situations, and provide more help?

The hon. Gentleman highlights the mess that the public finances were left in when the Labour party left government in 2010, and this Government have been picking up the pieces of that for the past seven years. Unlike Labour, we have given a four-year settlement to local authorities—97% of authorities have taken that up—to give them more space and time to plan to change services to reflect the changing financial environment.

Order. We are running late, but I want to take one last question from a new Member—Darren Jones.