Across the country councils are cutting weekly refuse collections to fortnightly with no pro rata cut in local taxes as recompense for the loss of service.
People are being penalised for non compliance with arbitrary rules – wheelie bin lids left up, overflowing wheelie bins, wrong rubbish in the wrong bin, rubbish left at the side of the bin, rubbish put out on the wrong day. On-the-spot fines of at least a hundred pounds. Across the country, one hundred people a day are being fined.
Some of these fines are ludicrous. A young girl was fined for leaving cardboard alongside a skip in a car park. The only reason she left it at the side of the skip was because it was full to overflowing because the local council failed to empty it often enough.
Many people have now found their wheelie bins have received a microchip implant. This is in preparation for the latest scam being pushed by the Local Government Association and central government to charge for waste disposal. Rubbish will be weighed as it is tipped into the refuse cart, with the household being billed according to how much rubbish they dispose of. The only difference between the LGA and No 10, is that the LGA want the right to impose their own 'pay-as-you-throw tax', not have it imposed on them by central government.
A bin tax could result in households paying up to £120 per year more, that is on top of what they already pay as council tax. The high cost will lead to more fly-tipping and backyard burning. The poorest families will be those hit the hardest by this new tax. More local taxes cannot be justified when we have seen local taxes rise year-on-year faster than inflation for deteriorating services. We have seen an 80% increase in council tax over the last decade. The bin tax, while purporting to encouraging recycling, is nothing more than a scam to raise more money from long suffering local taxpayers. It should not be seen as a green tax, as there are no plans to offset the charge with lower taxes elsewhere, nor are there any plans that homes that exceed recycling targets will be given a council tax discount.
We already pay Council Tax to have our rubbish collected. This is simply a tax on top of a tax.
The way to improve our abysmal efforts at recycling and waste reduction, is through education and working with the public, not through punishment.
Those who should be targetted, are not householders, who are at the end of the waste chain and provide an easy target, but supermarkets and others who generate waste.
All these scams are being pushed in the name of recycling and waste reduction.
As with acid rain and dumping in the North Sea a generation ago, and despite the posturing by Tony Blair, Britain is still the Dirty Old man of Europe, as the amount of waste we send to landfill shows:
• UK – dumps around 27 million tonnes
• Italy – dumps around 20 million tonnes
• Spain – dumps around 17 million tonnes
• France – dumps around 13 million tonnes
• Germany – dumps around 10 million tonnes
Figures provided by LGA show that households in the UK send more than 26.8 million tonnes of rubbish to landfill every year – the equivalent of almost half a tonne for every home in the country. A situation that is clearly unsustainable. The figures also show that Britain sends 7 million tonnes more rubbish into landfill than any other country in Europe. Germany which has a population 25% larger than the UK disposes of less than half the amount of rubbish in landfill.
We are all in favour of recycling and waste reduction, but it should not be used as an excuse to cut services, impose fines and levy additional local taxes.
The Downing Street website has an on-line petition objecting to bin tax. Please take the trouble to sign it, then encourage everyone you know to sign it.
People are fighting back, though maybe not always attacking the right targets.
Around a dozen councils that tried to introduce fortnightly collections have been forced to back down, and have reintroduced weekly collections. In Basingstoke, they never got as far as introducing fortnightly collections before being forced to back down. In Aldershot, residents are pelting bin men with their rubbish. In Oxford, residents are deducting part of their Council Tax as compensation for the loss of service.
In Aldershot, David Quirk (the official responsible for pushing a cut in services in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor) recently addressed a local residents group. His comments and the snide attack on a local councillor who has opposed fortnightly collection, confirmed what many had long suspected, that the so-called six month trial of fortnightly collection was a crude attempt to force fortnightly collection via the back door.
Unlike North Kesteven, which provides a useful leaflet as to what goes into which bin, Quirk has refused to provide such information in Rushmoor, on grounds of cost. Four times a year, households get a rubbish magazine called Arena, which is treated as junk mail and goes straight in the bin. It would not be difficult to provide a pull-out supplement providing all the required information on recycling and home composting, information that would go a long way to improving the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor's abysmal performance. But that would require engagement of brain, something Quirk and his rubbish team seam incapable of.
There has has been widespread public opposition in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor to forced imposition of fortnightly collection. At a recent council meeting, only one councillor tried to raise the issue, and he was barred from asking questions. It is nice to know our councillors are working so hard on behalf of the local community. The councillors did though find the time to vote themselves a massive hike in their allowances for the hard work they claim to put in on our behalf. It is what is jokingly called local democracy, or otherwise known as getting your snout in the trough.
Punishing people through cutting services, imposing fines and levying extra taxes, is not the way to improve the UK's abysmal performance on recycling.
Pete Castle, Residents grill officers over alternate bin collection trial, Aldershot Mail, 20 February 2007
Collect Refuse in Oxford Weekly, Indymedia UK, 13 February 2007
LGA War on Waste launched as figures show Britain is officially the dustbin of Europe, press release, Local Government Association, 7 January 2007
No 10's pay-as-you-throw proposals 'unhelpful and unnecessary', press release, Local Government Association, 19 February 2007
Keith Parkins, Natural Capitalism, www.heureka.clara.net, October 2000
Keith Parkins, A sense of the masses - a manifesto for the new revolution, www.heureka.clara.net, October 2003
Keith Parkins, Curitiba – Designing a sustainable city, www.heureka.clara.net, April 2006
Keith Parkins, Alternate Bin Collections, Indymedia UK, 13 November 2006
Keith Parkins, Rushmoor fortnightly bin collection, Indymedia UK, 17 November 2006
Keith Parkins, A load of rubbish, Indymedia UK, 12 December 2006
Keith Parkins, Failing councils are creating gravy trains for consultants, Indymedia UK, 12 December 2006
Keith Parkins, Recycling – a tale of two councils, Indymedia UK, 5 January 2007
Keith Parkins, Fortnightly rubbish collection creating a plague of rats, Indymedia UK, 8 January 2007
Keith Parkins, Recycling – the good, the bad and the ugly, Indymedia UK, 7 February 2007
Keith Parkins, Recycling in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor goes from bad to worse, Indymedia UK, 9 February 2007
Keith Parkins, Green waste recycling, Indymedia UK, 12 February 2007
Keith Parkins, Recycling and waste reduction being used as an excuse to cut services, Indymedia UK, 19 February 2007
Rebecca Connop Price, Bin trial gripes will get airing, Surrey-Hants Star, 22 February 2007