A ‘Tory tip tax’ charging for the disposal of household DIY waste in West Sussex should be scrapped, Labour county councillors have said.
Residents had have to pay £4 a bag to get rid of items such as hardcore, plasterboard, and soil at West Sussex County Council’s Household Waste Recycling Sites since October.
The charges were introduced alongside reduced opening hours and days of operation for most West Sussex rubbish tips.
But Labour county councillors have tabled an amendment to the 2017/18 budget, due to be discussed on Friday (February 17), to abolish the charges.
This follows a recent letter from the Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government which stated that ‘waste disposal sites should not be charging for household DIY waste in any rate’.
Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) said: “The ‘Tory tip tax’ was forced through, it was the wrong decision then, and now there’s a fairly good chance that it was not legal to introduce charges in the first place, or that it won’t be long before the Government makes the county council reverse them anyway.
“Common sense would suggest the council abolishes it now, taking into account all the reports coming back of the serious increases in fly tipping.
“That there has been a diminution in hard-core is one of the most alarming parts of this. If it’s not going in the right places at the HWRS tips, it must mean much of it is being hidden in the domestic waste.
“Our district and borough domestic waste grinders and at our MBT plants simply won’t cope and it will cost a fortune to replace them.
“While we did not agree with the West Sussex Tories’ decision to introduce the charges, and indeed accurately warned them of all the short-sighted, damaging things that would happen if they went ahead, at no time did we realise that it may not even have been their right to do this.”
Brian Quinn (Lab, Broadfield) added: “There is enough of a problem with fly tipping as it is, without the council putting up additional barriers. Why should my residents, and in fact all the residents in the county have to put up with this?
“They pay their council tax for what they rightly think should be a free service at the point they need to use it. And actually they’re set to pay a good deal more when the Tories put up the council tax by four per cent this month, so I think the residents should see something for their money.”
Back in January a spokesman for the county council said: “There has been no noticeable increase in fly tipping since the introduction of the charges at the household waste and recycling sites. We have carefully monitored any reports of fly tipping through our district and borough partners and none of them are reporting a direct increase as a result of the changes.
“Nationally there has been an increase in fly tipping year on year for the last 6-8 years. We are in the process of putting together a specialist team of officers who would enhance the anti fly tipping work by district and borough partners.
“Our actions and those of many other local authorities fully comply with the current legal legislation as defined by Controlled Waste Regulations 2012 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which specifically states that soil and hardcore is classified as an industrial or non-household waste and as such a charge can be levied for its disposal.
“We are aware of subsequent statements issued by government which, in our view, contradict this legislation. However, unless this legislation is changed by the Government - and there is currently no indication of any plans to do so - we do not intend to reverse our decision to charge for non-household waste streams such as soil, hardcore and tyres.”
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