Paying more and more for less and less seems the mantra now for local council services. South Gloucestershire MP Chris Skidmore took his campaign against a new ‘stealth tax’ launched by his local council to the Houses of Parliament. He spoke in the House of Commons against recent green refuse bin charges.
‘Hard working residents have had little say over the increase in the amount of money they’re having to pay for services that used to be included in their council tax,’ he told fellow MPs. Fortnightly collections of green waste have been scrapped and these residents now have to pay £36 to have their garden refuse removed—dubbed a ‘green bin tax’. Skidmore set up a petition signed by over 4,200 local people to trigger a local council debate about it. The charge has cost £650,000 to implement.
‘Fortnightly green waste collection is an optional service for residents, rather than a tax, and those who do not wish to pay are not obliged to do so,’ said a local council spokesman.
Skidmore took the petition to Parliament and the Secretary of Communities and Local Government responded by saying: ‘Ministers believe that councils should not be introducing stealth taxes by imposing new charges on local residents. Instead councils should be making sensible savings by better procurement, more joint working, and cutting fraud in order to protect frontline services.’
Skidmore also argued that the charge amounted to a total increase in council tax of over the 2% required to force a referendum and that the council was using the ‘stealth tax’ charge to get round this, so they could claim to have frozen council tax, but locals are not impressed.
‘I believe this should be part of our Council Tax as it always has been,’ said one. ‘I have seen more fly-tipping in the area although it is harder to spot now the council has stopped cutting our grass as well.’
As a result of the local debate triggered by the petition, South Gloucestershire councillors have now voted to review the impact of the green bin tax on local residents. Whether that will lead to anything concrete remains to be seen…
Tim Newark, South West TaxPayers’ Alliance