South Ribble Council wants to start charging for the collection of garden waste.
The council’s budget, which is set to be approved on March 1, sets out introducing a one-off annual £30 charge for emptying brown bins, with effect from April 1, 2018.
In an attempt to balance the books and freeze council tax , the budget also proposes charging for the replacement of wheelie bins from April 1, 2017, and withdrawing £44,000 fundsing for police community support officers .
The proposals have been slammed by Lib Dems, who said the charges were “taxation by the back door” and the PCSO funding was “passing the buck”. Labour believe garden waste charges should be brought from June in line with other councils, but want to see more PCSO funding.
Lib Dem leader Councillor David Howarth said: “We’re totally against charging for bin collections. All it will do is lead to an increase in fly-tipping and recycling rates will fall.
“This is a council tax increase by the backdoor - £30 equates to a 21.5 per cent increase for those in a Band A property and 14.5 per cent for Band D.
“The council keep telling is they’ve halved the cost of waste collection with a new contract, so they want their cake and to eat it too.”
On PCSO funding, he said: “It’s safety on our streets or passing the buck elsewhere. If you pass the cost onto the Police and Crime Commissioner, all he will do is up his precept.”
The council is facing a budget deficit of over £1 million by April 2018, rising to £2.6 million by 2020. If the garden waste collection costs are brought in, it is expected to generate £600,000 by 2019/20.
Labour leader Coun Paul Foster called the Tory budget “devisive and dangerous”. He slammed the cutting of PCSO funding as “callous”, questionned using reserves to balance the books and claimed there would be council tax increases from next year.
He said: “These budget proposals will cause long lasting harm to the local community and the authority itself.”
His alternative is not to raise council tax for three years, provide an additional £100,000 for more PCSO’s, to remove the Council Tax Support Scheme, have a review of car park charges and the create health and wellbeing hubs.
He said: “Enough moaning, enough austerity, let’s drive forward with these exciting new initiatives and bring a real confidence back to all.”
What the Tories have to say:
The Tory party has set the budget for 2017/18 at £13.231m, with the cost to a Band D property remaining at £208.38 per year.
Other proposals included are £500,000 to the maintenance of the borough’s green and spaces and generating £300,000 revenue a year by buying rental properties.
Council leader Peter Mullineaux said the PCSO cuts were “regrettable”, but needed in light of deficits.
On waste collection, he said the charges were “not an easy decision” , and would only be brought in when a LCC grant stopped.
He said: “I don’t think it’s right to charge before then.”