West Berkshire Green Party members braved a blizzard to lobby Conservative West Berkshire councillors before the full council meeting on 1 March 2018 in protest against their latest recycling tax, a £50 (for now) charge to empty our green bins.
We also tabled questions at the meeting asking them to justify this policy, which they admit will increase landfill, fly-tipping, and bonfires. (The response was to blame the Labour government – yes, the one that left office eight years ago – for the damaging and discredited Tory policies of austerity and cuts.)
Opposition councillor Lee Dillon proposed an amendment halving the charge to £25 but could not get a seconder, his three fellow Liberal Democrats (along with numerous Tories) having failed to make the meeting.
So the tax goes ahead, on top of a 5.99% increase in council tax, making the true interest in council tax for a single person more than 12%.
West Berkshire Green Party will be fighting next year’s elections on a platform of a big increase in recycling, not a big increase in fly-tipping and landfill as we are seeing under the Conservatives.
10 reasons the Green Party opposes the Conservative recycling tax
1 The council should be making it easy for people to recycle, not discouraging them.
2 We are already paying for this service through our council tax – which the council also proposes to increase – so in effect we will be paying twice for the same service.
3 How long will the charge stay at £50? Experience suggests they will soon increase it.
4 The council admits that to avoid the charge, some people will resort to fly-tipping green material, burning it in their garden, or sending it to landfill.
5 This is doubly bad for the environment, increasing the amount of methane and pollution in the air we breathe and despoiling our lovely countryside, while wasting a valuable resource – compost.
6 The council’s claim that this scheme will make £900,000 a year is wildly optimistic – it admits that many people will simply refuse to pay.
7 The scheme is impractical and open to abuse – for example theft of bin stickers and hiding green waste in black bins. Who will monitor the system and how much will it cost to do so?
8 What about shared green bins where some people want to pay, and some don’t?
9 £50 may not seem a lot of money to councillors, but to people on fixed and low incomes, coming on top of an increase in council tax, it is a significant sum. A flat rate tax is unfair to the people least able to afford it. Remember the poll tax?
10 Don’t worry, though, some of the people who have dreamed up this scheme will not have to pay! Four Conservative Party councillors, including the council leader, do not live in West Berkshire.
OK, so what’s the Green Party alternative?
• Fly-tipping has already been increasing in West Berkshire since the council introduced its expensive and inefficient permit scheme. We will abolish the permit scheme and other payments, including any new tax on emptying green bins.
• We will work with neighbouring councils, many of which do more recycling than West Berkshire, to increase recycling – for example, more plastic items – efficiently and cost-effectively.
• We will make West Berkshire a beacon for recycling – to improve our environment for everyone.