Wiltshire Publications

Fly-tipping fears over ‘garden tax’

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 at 11:11 am.

CONCERNS have been growing following Wiltshire Council’s controversial decision to introduce a garden waste collection charge, after the scheme has proved problematic in other parts of the country.

The charge – expected to be around £40 – will be introduced in April as part of the council’s bid to reduce their spending by £30million.

A similar scheme, costing homeowners £35 per year, was set up in Birmingham last year but saw mountains of green waste bags piled up across the city after thousands of residents refused to sign up. The city also saw a huge increase in fly-tipping, with the city council having to develop a special ‘Waste Enforcement Unit’ to deal with the problem. The unit has had 900 complaints since its inception four months ago.

In Swindon, there have been similar problems with increased fly-tipping since a £40 charge was introduced with several areas around the town being ‘blighted’ by green waste according to one local councillor.

Councils have also faced other issues after introducing the so-called ‘garden tax’ including problems with refuse staff keeping track of who has paid; widespread confusion over collection dates; complaints over missed collections and a massive increase in the number of people visiting recycling centres.

When the charge was first announced in Wiltshire, Liberal Democrat council leader Jon Hubbard warned, “People will start disposing of garden waste via alternative means that will cost the council more, such as fly tipping or adding garden waste to standard household waste collections.

“Not everyone is able to have a compost bin or bio degrader in their gardens; this Green Bin Tax will hit households’ already stretched budgets hard.”

Wiltshire Council hope that those who decline the offer of paid collections will compost the waste themselves, or take it to one of the county’s 11 household recycling centres. The closest to Westbury are in Warminster and Trowbridge.

For the elderly, less able, those who cannot drive, or those who don’t have the time to visit the centres, there will be no option but to compost – or pay the charge.

Before introducing the charge, Wiltshire Council undertook a public consultation to determine what local people would like to see done with their green waste. The consultation cost over £1,500 plus the cost of a freepost facility, and only a reported 6% of respondents opted for the  charge, which the questionnaire suggested would cost £35.

The council issued an official apology after disregarding the views of its constituents and announcing that a charge would still be implemented.

Council leader Jane Scott said, “It is unfortunate that we need to propose charging for garden waste collections; particularly after we consulted with people about changes to this service last year. The reality is we now know that the budget situation is more challenging than when we carried out the consultation.”