Residents in Wyre face paying for a £30-a-year subscription service if they want to keep their green bin collection service.
The charge – which has been slammed by The TaxPayers’ Alliance – is being proposed by Wyre Council to plug a £1 million funding gap left when the county county decided to axe a cost-sharing agreement from 2018. But 70 per cent of residents are expected to refuse to pay and will instead be told to take their garden waste to their local tip themselves or make their own compost heap.
Introducing charges over and above their already punitive council tax rates means many taxpayers will feel they are paying twice for the service
In Blackpool, councillors plan to scrap its green bin collection service altogether in a bid to save £425,000, while Fylde Council has admitted it could follow suit as it explores its options.
TaxPayers’ Alliance boss Jonathan Isaby said: “Waste collection is one of the most essential services a council provides. Introducing charges over and above their already punitive council tax rates means many taxpayers will feel they are paying twice for the service.”
Wyre Council’s parks and open spaces boss Coun David Henderson, along with director for people and places Michael Ryan, has recommended senior councillors agree to the charge, which would come in place in the spring, when they meet later today.
The pair also revealed:
Binmen’s jobs could be on the line if not enough people sign up for the service;
The council could fail to hit government recycling targets and face unknown consequences;
Gardeners and handymen will be banned from using the service and must pay commercial rates;
Benefit recipients will not get a discount and those moving home won’t be able to transfer their subscription or get a refund;
The scheme will cost £100,000 to set up and could leave the council even further in the red if nobody agrees to pay; and
With just three in 10 people expected to sign up, there are fears recyclable waste will be dumped in black bins headed for landfills.
Leader of the opposition at Tory-run Wyre Council, Ruth Duffy, said: “If I was just a resident I would be up in arms and saying it’s not fair because I pay my council tax, but I know the implications of keeping within budgets.
“Obviously it’s another cost on residents but a lot of authorities are looking at it. I know I sound like a parrot but everything that is happening is because budgets are being cut.
“It doesn’t matter if we agree or disagree, we are totally out-voted, but I’m vehemently disappointed in the government because their cuts are making us do things like this.
“Everything they do is having an impact on the day-to-day lives of people.”
Coun Duffy said she expects the majority of residents would ‘abide by the rules’ by disposing of their waste properly but added: “The minority will fly-tip or put their garden waste in black bin bags.”
Coun Henderson said: “We had no choice but to look at changing how we operate due to Lancashire County council ending a cost sharing agreement, resulting in a loss of £980,000 to Wyre.
“Despite requests to reconsider or scale down the withdrawal of funding to lessen the impact on the district in the county, the decision has been made and we now have to mitigate that impact.
“Garden waste collections have been provided across Wyre without charge since 1999, however it is now necessary that we join other local authorities up and down the country in charging in order keep the service running.”
Fleetwood resident Bob Boal, who is known for his involvement in the Fleetwood Community Trust action group, said: “Where is it going to stop?
“Surely it is part of the council services to empty the green bins.
“I thought we paid our council tax for these kind of services and it’s out of order for us to pay ant extra.
“The bins are only emptied every fortnight and most people don’t do their gardening in the winter, so it seems excessive to me.”
David Williams, of Roundway, Fleetwood, who is a keen composter, says not all green waste can be composted.
He said: “You can’t compost leaves, twigs and other types of garden waste so that is not really the answer.
“At first, £30 a year does not sound like a lot but I think this kind of extra charge could lead to some people just dumping green waste, so it needs careful thought.
“An increase in fly-tipping could be a problem.”
Another Fleetwood resident, John Warnock a former Fleetwood Town Council member, said: “It’s a stealth tax by another name.
“Wyre Council say they are freezing our council tax but they are suggesting we have to pay this.
“They may as well add 2% onto our council tax bills.”
Blackpool North and Cleveleys Conservative MP Paul Maynard said: “As regrettable as it may be, if this is the only way of maintaining this service, then I understand why Wyre is proposing it.
“Lancashire County Council is not delivering what people are paying their county council tax for.”
The cost-sharing agreement was set up to encourage more recycling, with the county council sharing the cost of doorstep bin collections with district councils, it said.
A four-year extension was agreed last year but because ‘collections are now well established it is proposed to end these payments’ from 2018, a spokesman said.
It is believed to be worth around £2.1 million a year to Wyre and Fylde councils. Blackpool Council does not get any financial help because it is a unitary authority, but made its decision in the face of heavy government funding cuts.
A spokesman for Fylde Council said: “Fylde will lose £763,000 of funding from the county council from 2018/19, which it currently provides to cover the cost of collecting the waste.
“We will be looking at ways of balancing the books between now and March.”