Waste-collection fee rises slammed as 'stealth taxes'

Labours Coun Scott Dickinson, who represents the Druridge Bay ward.
Labours Coun Scott Dickinson, who represents the Druridge Bay ward.

Hikes in waste-collection fees in Northumberland have been criticised by one councillor as ‘stealth taxes’ on rural residents who care about their environment.

The county council, which is bidding to save £36million over the next three years, wants to bring in an additional £585,000 over that period through income from waste fees and charges.

The kerbside collection service for garden waste is to cost £40 in 2019, but Coun Scott Dickinson, the Labour member for Druridge Bay, has highlighted this 11 per cent rise as one which particularly hits those in rural areas where a tip may be a 20 or 30-mile round trip. “That’s if they have a car,” he added.

“Every gardener is aware that a compost bin will handle the average household’s green waste, but if you’re elderly and the majority of people who use the service are, then how do you handle the very heavy compost you produce? This is an unnecessary tax on the elderly in Northumberland.

“Not only will these stealth taxes damage the green credentials of the council, but, more importantly, it will really hit those who are striving to live within the rules of society on fixed incomes hardest of all.”

A Northumberland County Council spokesman said: “Kerbside garden-waste collections are widely regarded by residents as a convenient and cost-effective way to compost their garden waste.

“We believe the charge of £40 per bin that is emptied 20 times during the growing season and equates to only £2 per collection, continues to provide good value for money when compared to the cost and inconvenience of people having to take their garden waste to the nearest household waste site.”

As reported last month, Northumberland’s bulky-waste collection charges are the highest in the North East, although the region is the cheapest in the country and the prices charged in the county to collect items such as furniture, fridges and lawnmowers for disposal remain far lower than elsewhere.

The council explained that the charges reflect Northumberland’s large geographic area and do not cover the full cost of the service, which remains subsidised.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service