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Councillors to look again at plan to introduce charges for garden waste collections in Lichfield and Burntwood

The plan to introduce charges for garden waste collections in Lichfield and Burntwood has been called back in for scrutiny at Lichfield District Council.

Under the proposals, agreed by the local authority’s Cabinet, households would need to opt-in for collections – at a cost of £36 per bin each year.

But a meeting of the leisure, parks and waste management overview and scrutiny committee next week will re-examine the proposals after five Conservative councillors – Bob Awty, Tim Matthews, Mark Warfield, Ashley Yeates and Brian Yeates – said issues such as the effect of the charges on groups such as “the elderly and less well-off” needed further examination.

However, the Labour opposition group said the Tory members should have spotted the issues the so-called ‘bin tax’ earlier given the scrutiny committee has already discussed the plans twice.

Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward, Labour group leader on Lichfield District Council, said: “Where have these councillors been for past four months?

“They’ve had every opportunity, as Labour members have, of opposing the charges. I’ve had several conversations about it with lead members. Why haven’t they? They seem to think that scrutiny is just something that happens at the periodic meetings, if that, and fail to make any effort to engage in the huge challenges councils are facing.

“It was clear when the proposals were considered in confidence that few members had really thought about this at all even though the hint was there in December.

“Those who had actually read their papers were supporting the proposal, even though they realised it was a tough call, but now it looks like panic has set in, especially as elections are coming up.

“My Labour colleague, Cllr Sharon Banevicius, and I expressed a whole range of concerns, particularly relating to the impact on older, disabled and disadvantaged people but only one Conservative member supported us. At the end of the meeting, all members except me and Cllr Banevicius voted to support the proposals in principle pending a further report.

“That report came to the Committee again on March 8. Again, it was agreed by Conservative members. It then came to Cabinet on April 4 and was agreed with an amendment by the Cabinet member to review the impact of the additional charge for off-line applications on older and disabled people.

“I look forward to further debate on this but suspect that it may just be a cynical move to put the decision on hold.”

Cllr Banevicius accused the Conservative councillors of stalling the charge plans in a bid to avoid it impacting on county council elections on May 4.

“It was disappointing really to see so few Tory members using scrutiny as an opportunity to challenge or question the report,” she said. “It seems that they just don’t listen to local residents and then have to try to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.

“Can this late call in now, after months of discussion, have anything to do with the fact that there are elections in four weeks? Just a thought, but they shouldn’t take us for fools.

“We will continue to oppose this extra cost for hard-pressed residents and hope they join us in opposition this time.”

The brown bin charges will be discussed at the meeting on April 18.

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13 Comments

  1. Toast

    11th April, 2017 at 10:00 am

    “Cllr Banevicius accused the Conservative councillors of stalling the charge plans in a bid to avoid it impacting on county council elections on May 4.”

    Cynical maybe, but they really did pick an awkward time to vote on introducing the bin tax. Voters may have short memories, but this was an issue that was universally disliked.

  2. JCJ

    11th April, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    We were already thinking about composting our garden waste. This new charge has just made it an easy decision. The rest will go in the black bin. I can’t see many people paying for the service.

  3. Steven Norman

    11th April, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    This why members have had the opportunity to undergo training in scrutiny on a number of occasions.

    Personally I don’t blame the trainers but the trainees.

    This proposal has had LDC involvement with the County Council since June 2016 so it can only be the impending elections that has panicked these members into action.

  4. Mike

    11th April, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I thought the council sold the compost made from the green waste collections to offset this. Has this changed?

  5. Rob

    11th April, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Yes, the impending elections have panicked one or two people into action.

  6. Darryl

    11th April, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    I quite enjoyed a recent flyer posted through our door claiming a certain councillor had “represented south Lichfield for two decades,” having lived in south Lichfield for 14 years I can categorically state I’ve never seen or met the man.

    As for the bins, what are they saving to put where? There’s been austerity for some time, yet nothing goes down. What they doing with the money? Perhaps they should look at that ridiculous car again and consider whether the “gravitas” of turning up in a shiny expensive car is worth the cost.

  7. Shaub

    11th April, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    I just don’t understand what we’re paying our council tax for if they’re also going to charge us for this? Our road condition is atrocious and they also want to charge us for bin collections? Madness.

  8. Jesus

    12th April, 2017 at 9:36 am

    This is one of those small issues that shows the big impacts from the disconnect between regular people & those we elect into power.

    We all know local councils are being squeezed and such, and more money is needed everywhere. But for our councillors to think that by raising council tax, as well as applying “hidden” taxes is the solution, is just pathetic.

    None of us enjoy paying taxes, but we all know it is needed. I honestly would like to see a comprehensive and clear budget report, as well as a mass of open talks between people like us^ and our councillors.

    Surely, if you can give us all a clear case of why we should pay more council tax, where our money goes, and what it does for us. Then maybe trigger a Lichfield referendum for council tax rises?

    Or we all just let the City folk have their way, kill off the outer towns and leave the councillors at their useless meetings.

  9. Rob

    12th April, 2017 at 10:13 am

    But the children’s centres ………………

  10. Eric.N.Drinkwater

    12th April, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I don’t think there is any doubt what the Tories are up tom they are more likely to be delaying the decision on the Bin Tax because of County elections than any other reason.

  11. Philip John

    12th April, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Maybe they read my blog post and realised that replacing a free service with one that makes a profit whilst they’ve also raised council tax wasn’t likely to get them re-elected.

    Unfortunately, this is what you get from party politics. Jesus is right that folks should be expecting open discussions with councillors (their *representatives*!) but these councillors are there to make up numbers for the party so they can wield power, not to represent, as they’re supposed to. In fact, some of these representatives don’t even live in the area they are supposed to represent!

    Darryl might want to check if his representatives live in the area ;)

  12. Robert Birch

    12th April, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Tax up and services down that’s what the Tories are all about now. The have had since last summer to make their minds up and refused to listen to the objections from the Labour Councillors who, unlike them, have regular contact with their electorate through street surgeries and monthly surgeries as well as organising such things as the save the Green Belt petition which they refused to sign. Suddenly the penny drops that this will loose them votes in the County elections especially when people are also subject to their Tip Tax now as well. They are clearly delaying the decision until after the May election and then they will push it through regardless.
    Out of touch with the needs of the public who’s pockets they are happy to keep raiding.

  13. Steve

    12th April, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Which bin should Councillor Eadie’s report go in?