Councillor labels garden bin charge hike 'sneaky stealth tax' for West Northamptonshire
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A leading councillor has accused West Northamptonshire of a “sneaky stealth tax” over plans to hike charges for emptying garden bins and bulky waste collections which he fears could lead to more fly-tipping.
Ian McCord says introducing £42-a-year fees in the former South Northamptonshire District Council area for the first time during 2022 saw less green waste collected for recycling. The leader of council’s Independent group said: “It’s bad enough double-charging residents to empty their bins without almost double charging again and again.”
Cllr McCord revealed less green waste is being recycled in south Northamptonshire since April while ‘black bin’ general waste has increased and he has seen more rubbish being dumped in towns and countryside. He said: “You don’t solve issues by making it more expensive.”
Proposals to increase the yearly subscription for those who want garden waste bins emptied to £55 a year from April, reschedule some black bin rounds in parts of Northampton and in south Northamptonshire to every three weeks instead of fortnightly, plus hike charges for bulk waste collections by around 30 percent were contained in the council’s draft budget. The council estimates it will raise around £726,000 in extra revenue from the new green bin charge.
But Cllr McCord, who chairs the council’s scrutiny committee which will examine budget proposals before they go to the full council in February, warned: “It’s a sneaky stealth tax to put council tax up by £80 a year and then another £55 on top that if you want us to do the only thing that many people believe the council exists for, which is to empty bins. And, at the same time, reducing the black bin provision in parts of the area as well.
“Doubling the charge does not mean doubling income if you don’t factor in that some people will make alternative arrangements.”
Cllr McCord campaigned against extending the subscription service for garden waste bin collections a year ago. The former South Northamptonshire council included garden bin collections in its council tax charge but the scheme — and one in Daventry costing £35 a year — was ‘levelled up’ with the £42-a-year opt-in service in Northampton.
He added: “Having now harmonised the council tax, you’re clearly double-charging to empty a green bin. And the argument that not everybody has a garden is already taken care of within the council tax banding system because those who broadly don’t have gardens live in flats which are broadly in the bands A and B.”
Cllr McCord, who represents the Deanshanger ward, said figures for south Northants showed the tonnage of garden waste being collected dropped after the £42-a-year charge was introduced in April while the amount of non-recyclable ‘black bin’ waste has risen.
He said: “In the previous five years, the average green waste collected over a six month period was 1,265 tonnes, that’s dropped to 850. If the £42 charge reduced the amount of recycling by up to a third, what will a £55 charge do?
“I know from walking around the villages there seems to have been an increase in fly-tipping. Are we sure we're not going to see more people not recycling and disposing by other methods that we might not necessarily agree with?”