Lib Dems urge people to contact their councillor over DIY waste tip fears
PUBLISHED: 15:58 29 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:58 29 July 2018
Have you ever tried to measure the amount of wood you’re disposing of in litres?
Have you noticed an increase in fly-tipping across Norfolk lately?
Do you have a Conservative county councillor?
If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’, then you should write to your local councillor and ask them to explain why, at this week’s full council meeting, the Tories claimed there wasn’t enough evidence that DIY waste charges at household recycling centres had led to an increase in fly tipping across Norfolk.
We Liberal Democrats totally disagree with this. And so do the many constituents we represent who have been in touch with us to report increased fly-tipping in our county.
Figures from six district councils reveal fly-tipping incidents increased by 25pc in April 2018 when the charges were introduced, from 930 incidents in April 2017 to 1,158 in April 2018. Nationally, there has been an increase in fly-tipping – but by 7pc, meaning Norfolk has seen increases of more than three times the national average.
What’s more in April 2018 there was a 30pc drop in visitors to Norfolk’s recycling centres. In May the decrease was 12pc.
In April 2018, the amount of waste deposited at the recycling centres compared to last year fell by 30pc. In May 2018, it was still 21pc less.
Introducing what’s been dubbed the ‘Tory Tip Tax’ was supposed to save £280,000 against the cost of running recycling centres. However, if the drop in visitors to recycling centres continues, then this figure is unlikely to be achieved. And what’s worse is that whatever cost savings are made are simply being shunted on to district and borough councils, who are responsible for actually clearing up the mess. The average cost of doing this is nearly £80 per incident, based on figures from 2016/17 provided by the seven local authorities in Norfolk.
Once the national increase is accounted for, the extra 163 incidents in April alone look set to cost district and borough councils nearly £13,000 to clean up. If that were to happen every month, then it’s possible that for every £1 the county council gets from someone paying to deposit DIY waste at a recycling centre, a district or borough council is shouldering an extra £1 in clean-up costs.
It’s not just district and borough councils that face extra charges as a result of this unpopular Tory policy: as many local Norfolk people have discovered, there is no free service available from local authorities to clean up fly-tipping incidents on private land. This helps explain why a petition calling for the DIY waste charges to be reversed has attracted more than 6,800 signatures (you can help add to this by visiting https://www.change.org/p/norfolk-county-council-reverse-the-charges-at-recycling-centres-for-households).
Labour argued for the charges to be suspended but the Liberal Democrats are calling for them to be scrapped straight away. The evidence couldn’t be clearer, and our mailbags are so full of reports of the damage that’s being done that we might end up having to pay the £3 charge to dispose of them once this case is closed.
Creating charges for things is a great way to encourage people not to do them. In the case of plastic carrier bags and single use coffee cups, the effect has been good for the environment. But the Tory Tip Tax is simply stopping people disposing of their waste in the proper place.
This is a simple case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and it affects all of us: when there is fly tipping in our county, it blights the landscape and spoils our beautiful countryside for everyone.
There will always be people who ignore the rules but the DIY waste charges at household recycling centres are creating more mess across Norfolk and the Tories on Norfolk County Council should listen to the people and reverse this policy with immediate effect.