New ‘Garden Tax’ in Southwark is half cost of fees in Lib Dem controlled councils, says Labour

Katherine Johnston (05 June, 2019)

'We are left with the difficult choice of cutting services or finding new ways to raise income'


The environment chief at Southwark Council has slammed the Liberal Democrats for criticising the new ‘garden tax’, arguing three London boroughs controlled by the opposition party ‘charge more than twice as much’ than the new fee.

Councillor Richard Livingstone, responsible for the environment portfolio at the Labour-run Southwark Council, said nearly a decade of government cuts has left Tooley Street with just 63p out of every pound it used to receive. Taking into account inflation, the council’s funds have effectively more than halved.

“Despite this, the council has not halved its services,” he told the News. “The council cannot legally put up council tax further without a referendum, and so we are left with the difficult choice of cutting services or finding new ways to raise income.

“Usually, the council has saved money by finding more efficient ways to run things but sometimes it has had to make the difficult choice to ask for a contribution for some services that most other councils already charge for.”

He continued: “We know that new charges are rarely popular but we are committed to keeping the new charge as one of the lowest in London, despite the financial pressures on the council.”

Responding to an article in last week’s paper, he said: “It is ironic that you quote the Liberal Democrats when the three London boroughs run by them all charge more than twice as much as Southwark for this service.”

The new charge has divided residents, with some in favour saying Southwark is one of the best boroughs in London for waste collection and recycling, and others saying it is a tax on wealth and will only encourage more people to pave over their gardens or start fly-tipping.


How you can dispose of your garden waste

If you can’t afford the new fee – £25 this year rising to £30 in 2020, there are other options.

  • The most environmentally-friendly option is to compost rather than use the green waste bin
  • If you have a small garden or can’t compost, it could be cheaper to use the council’s garden waste bag service. It costs £15 for a set of 20 bags that be left out for collection.
  • Share a bin with a neighbour
  • Take your garden waste to Veolia, in Old Kent Road, for free.


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