Fire warning over fortnightly bin collections in London

Bin man
Image caption Brian Coleman said fortnightly collections "would cost the taxpayer"

Fortnightly bin collections could lead to more fires and divert the attention of firefighters from life-saving work, it has been claimed.

Brian Coleman, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said it could lead to increased fly-tipping and malicious fires.

The authority is concerned councils could change collection times to save money.

Mr Coleman said the brigade took about 8,000 calls a year to rubbish fires.

"Working with local people and local councils the brigade has been successful in reducing the number of rubbish fires in London," Mr Coleman said.

"However, there is a real danger that if fortnightly bin collections were introduced it would increase the number of fires which will risk lives and cost the taxpayer dear.

"Rubbish, refuse and other materials left outside are often maliciously set alight and even now we still attend over 8,000 calls each year.

"The brigade wants to cut this number further but will be hampered by a short-sighted, short-term, quick-fix solution that could increase the overall bill to the taxpayer."

'False economy'

Fire Services Minister Bob Neill said: "This is a very serious issue, given refuse fires account for almost half of all outdoor fires.

"This just shows that cutting front-line services like weekly collections is a false economy.

"The public now pay a lot of money in council tax, and want a decent bin collection in return."

London Councils, the umbrella organisation for 32 local authorities in the capital, said there was no pan-London policy on fortnightly refuse collection, and that it was up to the individual councils to decide.

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