Public health has improved enormously since the days of the Victorians, and that improvement is largely down to the Victorians. However, it isn’t advances in medicine, even widespread immunisation, which has increased life expectancy since the days that we sent children up chimneys. That has largely come from seemingly simple measures such as clean water, sewerage and the efficient collection of waste. So, Local Authorities have a duty to collect the rubbish that is a legacy of Victorian times. Now, incredibly, this government wants to do away with that responsibility, seemingly as part of its push to give Councils’ any excuse not to pick up people’s bins.
Basildon Council has the same pressures as everyone else: legislative incentives to recycle that mean considerable investment, and so there has been the temptation to play fast and loose with our rubbish collection responsibilities. Well, we haven’t, because we think that this basic service is so essential that even tentative suggestions to even think about biweekly collections and the like have been pretty firmly rejected. That also goes for pay-as-you-throw or any other wheeze that makes people pay for rubbish collection when they are already getting stung for so much Council Tax. We will be continuing with a high-quality weekly collection, paid for out of existing Council Tax unless the Labour government uses legislation to put a gun to our heads. The trouble is that I wouldn’t put is past them.