I was intrigued to read last week’s article on Harrogate Borough Council’s proposal to introduce a £39 charge for the collection of green waste from local households.
It provoked several questions in my mind. For instance:
What precedents are there for making a charge for particular council services?
What would be wrong with just putting up the council tax by say £25 a year for all households?
Why do the council think the charge they intend to introduce should be at a level which would produce a profit and what other services might call upon the profit made? (The idea that the council might aim to make an annual profit of £960,000 is horrifying. Any such arrangement should surely be cost-neutral).
Won’t charging for this service mean there’ll be more fly-tipping and a real danger of much of the green waste ending up in landfill?
Income tax and council tax generally work on the simple principle that everyone pays on the same basis and, though some people don’t benefit from some parts of expenditure, it’s broadly fair.
The fact that the tax of childless couples contributes to the education system and family benefits is, for instance, a much bigger issue than how we deal with the funding of rubbish collection or recycling but it’s rarely questioned.
The costs involved in green waste collection are relatively small and in no way justify levying a special charge. It’s simply part of a local council’s duty to its residents.
It’s true that not all residents have gardens, so some would not benefit from my suggested increase in council tax but that’s not an argument against it, as I have illustrated.
We heard recently that, changes to local government financing would soon lead to a £5m shortfall in HBC’s finances and that, as well as needing to make further economies, the council would be establishing a trading arm to compete with services provided by private companies. I smell a rat.
HBC takes a pride in holding down council tax. However, there comes a point at which raising the council tax is the better of two evils.
Scarborough Council recently implemented a charging scheme in relation to green waste; setting up the scheme cost £40,000, what a waste of money. And of course there will be further costs involved in administering the scheme.
No, the honest and sensible way to approach this issue, and the environmentally friendly approach, is to put the cost onto council tax bills and ensure that all residents have equal access to the service.
Keep it simple and avoid the expensive bureaucracy of setting up and running a charging scheme.
Larkfield Close, Harrogate