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Green waste ‘stealth tax’ proposals scrapped by councillors

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 04, 2014

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CONTROVERSIAL proposals to introduce a tariff for the collection of garden waste have been scrapped.

Changes to the collection of green waste were mooted by East Staffordshire Borough Council earlier this year as a way to save money from the authority’s ever-reducing budget, much to the annoyance of opposition councillors and some members of the public.

But after a committee reviewed the options available to slash outgoings, it was decided that a collection charge – dubbed a ‘stealth tax’ by members of the opposition Conservative group – would not be the way forward.

Councillor Dennis Fletcher, cabinet member for built environment, said: “We are not recommending the introduction of a charge for brown bins, and this administration has no plans to introduce one.

“But who knows in the future? The amount of money central Government gives to local authorities has reduced by about half.”

Had the charge been applied, residents would have been charged £40 a year for their bins.

Waste services are currently provided to the council under a £650,000 contract with Biffa, which runs until 2017.

There are minimum and maximum tonnages applied to the waste dealt with by the company, which must be adhered to, so the council does not breach its contract.

If the 49,000 brown bins – holding roughly 12,500 tonnes of waste – were removed from the collection, there may not be enough to meet requirements.

The council does not have a statutory duty to provide green waste collection.

A move to charge for organic waste collection was put forward by the Tory group when they were in power, but it was dropped before they were ousted by a Labour-Independent coup in February.

When it was revealed that the Labour-Independent administration wished to look into the idea, Tory councillors set up an online petition to gather support against the idea.

Tory leader Councillor Richard Grosvenor said at the time: “This charge should not be introduced as it will increase fly tipping, reduce recycling rates and impact all residents of East Staffordshire negatively.”

The Mail contacted Councillor Grosvenor for a response to this story, but he was unable to provide one as we went to press.

The review is due to be discussed by the cabinet at a meeting next Monday. Other recommendations include a suggestion for a future administration to consider removing food waste from brown bins from 2017, in a move which could save £250,000.

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