A competition to find the best use for unwanted garden bins was launched this week (Monday 9 July) by West Berkshire Green Party – with a £50 cash prize for the best idea.
The party has been campaigning relentlessly for months against West Berkshire Conservatives’ controversial proposal to charge an initial £50 a year to recycle garden waste.
We believe that the charge is a tax on recycling. West Berkshire Council has admitted it will lead to less recycling and an increase in fly-tipping, landfill and garden bonfires.
We also argue that the charge is a “stealth tax” the Tories are using to squeeze more money out of residents because they have already increased council tax by the legal maximum of 5.99% this year.
After questions from Green Party campaigners at recent West Berkshire Council meetings, the Conservatives have admitted that the scheme, which has been delayed twice, will generate less than half the £900,000 it originally claimed.
Tory Councillor Hilary Cole, who is meant to be in charge of the scheme, has sown confusion by first advising residents to put garden waste in their black bin, free of charge, and then telling them to keep their green bin and use it for food waste, again free of charge.
Green campaigners talking to local residents about the proposal find that most of them don’t know about it as their local Conservative councillors – despite voting unanimously for the charge as long ago as 1 March – have not mentioned it and there has been no official announcement by the council.
Many people say they won’t pay and that means thousands of bins left unused. We urge people to keep them until next year’s elections on 2 May – Green councillors will be doing our utmost to scrap this tax, and replace it with an efficient, cost-effective policy to increase recycling, rather than reduce it as the Conservatives propose, so hopefully you will need your bin then.
In the meantime, let’s have your green, sustainable solutions for what to do with the bins.
Residents have already been proposing alternative uses on social media. One idea is to use them as giant wheelbarrows, another is to turn them into water butts.
Steve Masters, chair of the local Green Party, suggested at last week’s West Berkshire Council meeting that the bins be made into a huge art installation, named “Boeck and Cole’s folly” (after Dominic Boeck and Hilary Cole, the two councillors most closely associated with the bin charge).
The competition is free to enter and – just like some of the Conservative West Berkshire councillors – you don’t even have to be a resident of West Berkshire!
You can enter by posting a comment under this blogpost with your idea. Drawings and photographs welcome.
You can also post your entry:
• On our Facebook page: WestBerkshireGreenParty
• On Twitter: @newburygreens
• By post: West Berkshire Green Party, 17 Valley Road, Newbury RG14 6ET
Closing date: Friday 27 July.
Unlike the Conservatives, who ignored the views of residents after a sham consultation exercise which showed 95% opposed the scheme, we promise to pass all suggestions to West Berkshire Council.