Mon, 14 May 2018
WEST Berkshire Council has rejected calls to scrap a scheme which will see residents charged £50 to have their green bins collected.
Newly-elected Liberal Democrat district councillor Jeff Brooks asked his Conservative counterparts whether they would reconsider the decision, which was made at a full budget meeting on March 1.
Mr Brooks won a seat from the Tories by claiming victory in the recent Thatcham West by-election, and his defeated rival Ellen Crumly admitted the £50 charge was one of the reasons she lost.
The council defended the decision, saying it would generate £900,000 additional income at a time when the cash-strapped authority needed it most to combat a reduction in government funding. It argued that the scheme was optional and that residents could opt not to have their bins collected.
However, the charge has caused public outrage.
At an executive meeting last Thursday, Mr Brooks said: “Given the most recent rejection by voters on charging for green waste collection, will the administration now consider scrapping this policy?”
However, the council’s executive member for waste, Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston), not only rubbished that idea, but also used it as a platform to mock his political rival.
Mr Boeck said: “I presume you are talking about the recent by-election in Thatcham West, unless there has been some kind of a referendum I haven't heard about?
“You will find that some 78 per cent of people who voted in the Thatcham West by-election voted for parties who supported the principlel of charging at our March budget meeting.
“This should come as no surprise to you, but in case your friends haven’t told you what they have been up to, your group leader, who is still councillor [Lee] Dillon by the way, tabled an amendment to our motion to introduce the garden waste charge, but not to abolish the charge.
“It was to retain the charge but to use transformational funds to reduce the charge to £25 for the first year only. After that the £50 annual charge would stand.
“It appears that the Liberal Democrats agreed with this garden waste charge.
“Perhaps next time you will find out what your party line is before you table questions.”
Mr Brooks responded by saying: “I am not sure about the party line.
“I can tell you that the people in Thatcham West don’t like this policy, period.
“So, at what point will you consider abandoning the scheme if the receipts do not come up to the £900k that you anticipated in your budget?
“At what point would you reappraise it?”
Mr Boeck replied: “Officers have carried out extensive and detailed modelling based upon experience with other authorities.
“We are confident that the take up will deliver the £900,000 savings that we hope for.
Mr Brooks simply responded: “We will see.”