Tory-controlled County Council plan to charge residents for garden waste collection

By Mick Scrimshaw on September 6, 2016

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This afternoon at the County Council’s Cabinet meeting Conservative councillors voted unanimously to try to force borough councils to charge residents about £40 a year to collect green garden waste.

In an attempt to meet the massive overspend the County Council are facing, they intend to stop paying the recycling credits that Northamptonshire Borough and District councils currently receive and force them instead to charge for kerbside collection of garden waste and possibly collect recycling waste every three weeks instead of the current two.

The proposal was met with massive opposition from the local councils who are already talking about the possibility of legal challenges as well as opposition County Councillors who argued strongly that plans would lead to more fly tipping and potentially people simply putting their garden waste into the black bins and therefore increasing the amount of rubbish going into landfill which defeats the whole aim of recycling.

According to the Conservative portfolio holder who proposed the plan, councils that already do this in other parts of the country charge households an average of £40 a year and claimed they were left with no option but to do this.

This is one more nail in the coffin of the worsening relationship the County have with Northamptonshire Borough and District councils and one Labour Councillor claimed it was ‘the worst thing the Council could possibly do to the relationship they with their local partners’.

The whole scheme is being pushed through to save the county council £500,000 to try to make up their expected overspending of more than £13m, but if implemented it will have massive impact on local councils and residents who will be forced to pick up the bill. Labour leader John McGhee called it a “waste tax” and councillors from all opposition parties voiced their concerns suggesting it would have unintended consequences as the County Council could face legal challenges to the move and potentially to recoup the added cost of fly tipping by the Districts.

I am personally opposed to the move because it represents a cynical move to deal with the council’s worsening financial position and while I fully support the idea of dealing with green and other kinds of waste in a better and more efficient manner, imposing this on residents is not the answer and will further jeopardise the relationship the county has both with its partner councils, and with the residents of Northamptonshire, so soon after controversial examples of the County Council trying to impose its will on local councils earlier this year.

Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.

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