March 7 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
A decision by a district council to charge residents £50 a year to collect green waste from outside their homes was last night condemned as “principally unfair”.
Tendring District Council is the only district in Essex which does not offer a household garden waste collection service.
Yesterday it revealed its first-ever service would start in May – but it would be optional, and for those who do sign up, it will cost £50 a year.
The two-year pilot scheme to pick up garden waste from outside homes in order for it to be recycled will be rolled out in the Clacton area in May. It will be expanded to other areas later this year.
Those opting to sign up will be asked to pay an annual £50 subscription fee as well as an initial £25 for the delivery of a wheelie bin for the 25 fortnightly collections throughout the year.
Ivan Henderson, leader of the Labour opposition at TDC, criticised council bosses for turning down the chance to offer a free green bin collection scheme.
He argued the scheme will add further pressure to cash-strapped families and said it was wrong in principle because residents are effectively paying for the service twice through council tax.
But those accusations were rejected by Nick Turner, TDC’s cabinet member for environment and coast protection, who said the service worked out at £1 a week and stressed the scheme was not mandatory.
Nationally, around one in three local authorities have introduced the fee in recent years.
Unlike household waste collections, which is a statutory right, the decision whether to charge for garden waste lies directly with individual councils.
It means some taxpayers receive the service for free while others are charged, sparking outrage among residents who claim they are victims of a postcode lottery.
Councils bosses nationwide have defended the charges by claiming they help cover the cost of disposing of waste in the face of budget cuts.
“In a way this pilot scheme is good news because this service has finally been introduced,” Mr Henderson said. “I asked a while ago why there was not a service for green waste because some people obviously cannot get to the recycling plants to drop it.
“But I think this scheme is principally unfair. People are paying for it twice as they are already paying for additional services through their council tax on top of this scheme.
“I am not pleased there is a charge. It is excluding some people from making use of it. It is wrong and I am unhappy about it. The council has got the money to provide the scheme (without charging).
“Once it becomes embedded I think they should reconsider the charges.
“The local elections are being held next year and under a Labour-run council we would be seriously looking at this charge and looking at bringing it in line with all other services.”
But Mr Turner, who said Essex County Council backs the scheme, insisted: “This is a pilot scheme involving part of the district and we will see what the take up is.
“There has been a great deal of interest in this idea from the public ever since it was first agreed last month.
“Anyone who does not want to be involved does not have to join up or pay for it. It has been offered to our residents at a cost of around £1 per week should they wish to use it.”