HARROW Council has been blasted by the Mayor of London over its decision to switch to a fortnightly refuse collection.

In a double blow for the Tory administration, first PM Tony Blair came out in favour of weekly collections on GMTV, saying: "there must be better ways for councils to recycle" and then the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone singled out Harrow Council as he waded into the recycling debate.

Mr Livingstone said: ""Harrow Council is the only council to date in London to have introduced alternate weekly collections. I am concerned that other boroughs will soon follow Harrow's lead, despite the fact no research has been done as to its success in London.

"I am not convinced that the research carried out in rural areas applies to the high rise, high-density buildings in some London boroughs. Some Harrow councillors have raised concerns with my office that this policy has led to confusion with the public as to which days they could recycle."

But Cllr Susan Hall, the portfolio holder for urban living for Harrow Council who has only been in the post since February, has reacted with anger to the Mayor of London's comments. She said: "I am absolutely incensed at the comments that appeared in the national press, they simply aren't fair.

"What we now do is collect two bins per household per week."

Cllr Hall explained that the brown bins, which contain "smelly waste" that could cause maggots, are collected on a weekly basis and the green and blue bins are collected on alternate weeks.

But Mr Livingstone said: "My suspicion is that alternate weekly collections are more about cutting costs than improving recycling rates. I am concerned that the boroughs are not looking for easier ways to increase recycling in the capital.

"It is clear that the boroughs are introducing this without understanding the effects on environmental hygiene and the rodent population and the real test will come as we experience a long, hot summer."

However Cllr Hall absolutely refuted Mr Livingstone's statement. She said: "Over the last year our recycling rate has improved significantly. It has gone from 18 per cent to nearly 30 per cent by the last financial year and, with the help of our residents, we will achieve 35 per cent in the current year. This will take us from the bottom five to the top five recycling boroughs in London.

"So the Mayor is wrong in picking on Harrow - we are not one of boroughs with an alternate weekly collection where households have their organic waste collected fortnightly rather than weekly.

"What we are is a council that has a waste collection system suitable for our residents because we are saving them money and helping the environment at the same time."

Cllr Hall also admitted the council had sold back some of the green boxes back to the supplier after it decided to roll out blue bins across the borough and that it was not prepared to handle the full impact of compulsory recycling when it was introduced last summer.