£40 per year bin collection charge will 'hit poorest the hardest' says Chatteris man

PUBLISHED: 16:02 01 July 2016 | UPDATED: 09:02 02 July 2016

£40 per year bin collection charge will ‘hit poorest the hardest’ says Chatteris Town Crier

£40 per year bin collection charge will 'hit poorest the hardest' says Chatteris Town Crier

Archant

A Chatteris man has started a petition opposing planned charges for the collection of brown bins as he believes it will "hit the poorest the hardest".

Lawrence Weetman says the £40-per-year costs will “disproportionately affect the poorest people in society, as well as disabled people”.

However Mark Mathews, head of environmental services, has previously said: “With reductions in Government funding creating ever increasing pressure to find further savings, considerations such as charging for services that have previously been offered for free becomes necessary.”

In an open letter to Fenland District Council, which has been read by hundreds of local people, Mr Weetman writes: “This change will hit the poorest the hardest.

“It is born out of a restriction from increasing council tax and – effectively - is being used as a back-door way of increasing FDC’s portion of the council tax bill.

“A £40 charge would represent a 3.5 per cent increase in council tax for people living in Band A properties, but only a 1.1 per cent rise on top of the bill for those living in the largest, most valuable Band H properties.

“If the shortfall in funding was obtained through council tax then it would be more evenly spread and would hit poorer people less.

“This is particularly important, given that people in Band A properties are far more likely to have smaller gardens and therefore produce less garden waste.”

The council has been publicising a home composting bin that can be bought for £18, but Mr Weetman suggests that those who have small gardens may not have space to self-compost.

Those not wishing to pay for a brown bin will still be able to take garden waste to recycling centres in Wisbech, March and Whittlesey, say the council.

Mr Weetman however says that the charge would disproportionately affect non-drivers.

“Will the council make separate arrangements for those who, due to disability or mobility issues, are unable to drive to a council waste site or compost at home?” he asks.

“Additionally, I think it is wrong for the council to blame this on the ‘growing number of properties’ being built across Fenland,” he continues.

“In fact, additional houses with additional council tax should help to reduce the cost pressures upon the council, as infill housing increases the density of refuse collection (less distance between each property).”

He then suggests “if it is true that new housing places cost pressures upon the council then this is a clear sign that the council is failing to do its job.

“The council has powers to demand additional payments from property developers during the planning process to cover the costs of any increase in service demands.

“If new housing is placing unreasonable demand on council services then the council should do a better job of negotiating these payments, or refuse to allow the new housing to be built.

“The council should not excuse its failures in this area by punishing existing residents.”

He also said he believes that the consultation does not make sufficient provision for residents to oppose the charge.

“The ‘consultation’ is merely a survey to try and assess the impact on the council rather than providing residents with an easy mechanism to reject the proposals as they stand.

“The council should stop fobbing off residents with false “consultations” on pre-determined actions and go back to the drawing board to re-think this deeply regressive charge.”

Fenland District Council hope that by signing up 12,000 to 20,000 households, they will save up to £700,000 a year.

To read the letter in full, visit https://medium.com/@lawrenceweetman/an-open-letter-to-fdc-about-the-brown-bin-charge-f21d3953d9da#.1mx4bcliu

To sign the petition visit www.change.org/p/fenland-district-council-bin-the-proposed-charges-for-garden-waste-collections-in-fenland

Let us know what you think about the proposed charges by emailing ben.jolley@archant.co.uk

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