Good news for taxpayers in South Gloucestershire as their new council administration pledges to phase out a controversial ‘bin tax’. Last year, local residents had to pay a £36 annual levy to have their garden waste removed - and the new waste collection regime cost £650,000 of taxpayers’ money to set up.
Local supporters protested, raised a petition with 4,000 signatures, and got the support of their local MP. "This is nothing but a stealth tax that will hit hardworking people and families, who weren’t properly given a say over this tax being introduced," said Chris Skidmore MP. He got the support of then Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles, who said "When we are helping councils to freeze council tax for hardworking people, extra charges will hit people’s pockets hard. Councils should be delivering sensible savings through better procurement and joint working, not imposing new stealth taxes."
Councils charging for waste removal are reneging on their fundamental duties. It is not right for local councils to be seeking ways to charge residents for basic services, otherwise they will be wondering what the Council Tax is for? Certainly not just to pay the wages of council bureaucrats.
South Gloucestershire Council’s new leader says he cannot cut the ‘bin tax’ immediately but will reduce the charge over the coming year. "To eliminate it completely," he says, "would cost £2m and that's difficult money to find in these difficult times." That’s another problem - taxpayers’ money being wasted on ill-considered schemes that then cost more money to reverse.
Tim Newark is the Grassroots Co-ordinator of the South West TaxPayers’ Alliance