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'Garden tax' will increase landfill, Lib Dems claim
A ‘GARDEN tax’ on green waste collections will lead to more leaves going to landfill and higher eco-tax bills, a council has been warned.
Durham County Council’s Labour cabinet today (Wednesday, September 18) backed starting public consultation on charging £20 a year for emptying garden waste bins.
The service is currently free to 151,000 households across the county but, with the council facing spending cuts of £200m, finance chiefs say it is no longer affordable and introducing a £20 fee would save £933,000 a year.
However, Liberal Democrat leader Amanda Hopgood dubbed the charge a “garden tax” and predicted many residents would dump their garden waste in their rubbish bins, leading to more going to landfill and the council being hit with a higher landfill tax bill.
Councillor Brian Stephens, the cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said he did not encourage residents to do this and neither should other councillors.
However, he did not answer Coun Hopgood’s question over whether garden waste would be separated from rubbish if placed in the same bin.
Council leader Simon Henig said the “garden tax” description was ludicrous as there was no compulsion to take part.
A £20 fee would allow the garden waste scheme to be extended to an extra 35,000 households.
However, 380 homes in Weardale currently enjoying free collections would be asked to take their garden waste to designated drop-off zones at certain times.
The service would be run on an “opt in” basis and households would be allowed to share bins and costs.
There would be 16 collections between April and November each year.
Coun Stephens said it represented excellent value for money.
Terry Collins, the council’s corporate director for neighbourhood services, said many councils provided no garden waste service and, of those that did operate a service, about a third charged for it.
The £20 fee is the same as charged in Newcastle and less than in Northumberland.
Mr Collins predicted a 40 per cent take up across County Durham, accounting for 60 per cent of garden waste.
New bins would be provided where needed and unwanted ones would be taken away.
Consultation will run from tomorrow (Thursday, September 19) until Monday, October 28, before the matter returns to the cabinet for a final decision.
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