Wiltshire's waste shame

January 25, 2012 2:54 PM

Wiltshire residents and TPA supporters Jenny and Tim Stevenson are furious at the loss of their weekly rubbish collections. ‘I don’t know how Wiltshire Council has the nerve to change to fortnightly bin collections in order to save money,’ says Jenny, ‘especially in view of the salary being paid to its chief officers, and monies being held in reserve for rainy days.  Is this not now one of those rainy days for which this money was intended?’ 

Wiltshire Council realises that as a result of this new regime, starting in March, it is offering poor value for its council taxpayers, but is unapologetic. ‘Do I get a rebate in my council tax as the council is only collecting my household waste once every two weeks?’ is the reasonable question asked on its website. Dream on is the emphatic answer! ‘The council will not be issuing any rebates in council tax due to the changes in waste and recycling services,’ it says. ‘The cost savings achieved through collecting household waste on a fortnightly basis will be reinvested to provide additional kerbside recycling collections.’

Yes, indeed, Wiltshire Council will find ingenious ways of spending your money on dealing with the problems caused by their new garbage removal scheme. So, if the council happens to miss one of your fortnightly collections and you face a month without your bins being emptied, the council will return to pick it up, but only if ‘a bin has been genuinely missed’ and not because you’ve been away enjoying yourself. ‘Some household waste lorries now carry cameras,’ they warn you, ‘which record whether bins were out at collection time.’ If you insist on being away for one of their twice-monthly garbage visits, they suggest ‘perhaps you could ask a neighbour to put out your bin and take it in after collection.’ I’d certainly look forward to that conversation with my neighbour.

And why is Wiltshire Council suddenly junking weekly bin collections? ‘We are paying millions in landfill tax,’ says its waste spokesman, the landfill tax bill shooting up ten-fold from £8 to £80 a ton. But this is a tax purely invented by the European Union in order to pursue its Green agenda. Surely, in these times of austerity, we should not be indulging such nonsense and our councils should just not pay it. What’s the worst that could happen?

Instead, Wiltshire Council, like many across the country, is using this hike in landfill tax to justify giving poor service to council taxpayers. In defiance of the fact that Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has said that householders have a basic right to have their rubbish taken away weekly, and has provided £250 million of taxpayers’ money to ensure the service continues. ‘The grant is only for two years as I understand it,’ says Wiltshire Council’s waste spokesman. ‘At the end of the two years we would have to bear the cost of it all.’

So that’s it, in despite of central government’s defence of weekly bin collections, Wiltshire residents can look forward to stinkier bins, garbage trucks with spy cameras and the pleasure of asking their neighbours to put out their rubbish for them.

Tim Newark, Bath and South-West TaxPayers’ AllianceWiltshire residents and TPA supporters Jenny and Tim Stevenson are furious at the loss of their weekly rubbish collections. ‘I don’t know how Wiltshire Council has the nerve to change to fortnightly bin collections in order to save money,’ says Jenny, ‘especially in view of the salary being paid to its chief officers, and monies being held in reserve for rainy days.  Is this not now one of those rainy days for which this money was intended?’ 

Wiltshire Council realises that as a result of this new regime, starting in March, it is offering poor value for its council taxpayers, but is unapologetic. ‘Do I get a rebate in my council tax as the council is only collecting my household waste once every two weeks?’ is the reasonable question asked on its website. Dream on is the emphatic answer! ‘The council will not be issuing any rebates in council tax due to the changes in waste and recycling services,’ it says. ‘The cost savings achieved through collecting household waste on a fortnightly basis will be reinvested to provide additional kerbside recycling collections.’

Yes, indeed, Wiltshire Council will find ingenious ways of spending your money on dealing with the problems caused by their new garbage removal scheme. So, if the council happens to miss one of your fortnightly collections and you face a month without your bins being emptied, the council will return to pick it up, but only if ‘a bin has been genuinely missed’ and not because you’ve been away enjoying yourself. ‘Some household waste lorries now carry cameras,’ they warn you, ‘which record whether bins were out at collection time.’ If you insist on being away for one of their twice-monthly garbage visits, they suggest ‘perhaps you could ask a neighbour to put out your bin and take it in after collection.’ I’d certainly look forward to that conversation with my neighbour.

And why is Wiltshire Council suddenly junking weekly bin collections? ‘We are paying millions in landfill tax,’ says its waste spokesman, the landfill tax bill shooting up ten-fold from £8 to £80 a ton. But this is a tax purely invented by the European Union in order to pursue its Green agenda. Surely, in these times of austerity, we should not be indulging such nonsense and our councils should just not pay it. What’s the worst that could happen?

Instead, Wiltshire Council, like many across the country, is using this hike in landfill tax to justify giving poor service to council taxpayers. In defiance of the fact that Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has said that householders have a basic right to have their rubbish taken away weekly, and has provided £250 million of taxpayers’ money to ensure the service continues. ‘The grant is only for two years as I understand it,’ says Wiltshire Council’s waste spokesman. ‘At the end of the two years we would have to bear the cost of it all.’

So that’s it, in despite of central government’s defence of weekly bin collections, Wiltshire residents can look forward to stinkier bins, garbage trucks with spy cameras and the pleasure of asking their neighbours to put out their rubbish for them.

Tim Newark, Bath and South-West TaxPayers’ Alliance

Latest Blogs: