Southwark Council has announced plans to begin charging to remove bulky rubbish from homes – a decision that has sparked fears of a rise of fly-tipping in the borough.
A new £16 fee is set to be introduced from October 1, replacing the previous collection service which was free for up to fifteen large bags.
The decision has been criticised by Southwark Lib Debs, whose leader Cllr Anood Al-Samerai claimed the policy was “completely wrong.”
She said: “Introducing charges for bulk waste will lead to increased fly-tipping and it is the poorest residents who will suffer. Liberal Democrats are fighting the corner of residents by arguing that collecting waste for free saves money in the long run with lower street cleaning costs.”
The Lib Dems ‘called-in’ the decision to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee last week, where members recommended assessing the policy’s impact on fly-tipping and looking at reduced costs for low-income earners.
Cllr Darren Merrill, Cabinet Member for Environment and the Public Realm, said research showed adding charges had “little impact” on fly-tipping.
He said: “Up until now, we’ve been one of the only London boroughs offering free bulky waste collections. While we would love to continue this provision, budget restraints mean we have to prioritise essential services. The new £16 fee (for up to ten items) is in line with other authorities but almost all have a lower cap on the number of items collected.
“Our research found that charges for bulky waste collections had little impact on fly-tipping rates.
“We spoke with other councils who had introduced charges and they didn’t experience an increase in fly-tipping. In one case, where a council introduced free bulky waste collection, it did not lead to a reduction in fly-tipping.”