A controversial new ‘garden tax’ will come into force across Southwark this weekend, despite widespread opposition from angered residents.
From Saturday, June 1, residents of kerbside properties will have to pay a £25 charge to have their garden waste collected by the council, rising to £30 per year after March 31, 2020.
And, although the service will continue to be weekly, the collection days may change to maintain ‘route efficiency’.
The Labour-run council has told residents of all 51,000 properties affected across the borough that the fee is necessary as ‘not everyone who receives it is making use of the garden waste service’ and that ‘it is fairer that only those using the service contribute towards the running of it’.
But this rationale has been slammed by homeowners, who say the new fee is simply a stealth tax on wealth to raise funds for the council’s increasingly cash-strapped coffers.
In leafy East Dulwich, homeowners and tenants alike were fuming about the extra cost, arguing not everyone uses libraries, schools, care homes or leisure centres but – regardless – contribute to public services, and that council tax is banded according to property values.
One homeowner queried how the exercise could save cost given the administration involved in chasing payments and removing and replacing different types of bins.
The Liberal Democrat opposition have also argued that rather than paying up, more people will just turn to fly tipping to dispose of their rubbish.
This view was supported by one angry resident in Peckham, Sarah Baldwin, who said: “We pay council tax for a wide variety of services, and our household certainly does not make use of all the services.
“I am perfectly happy to make contributions towards services I don’t use because it is good for the community.
“In return, I expect others to contribute towards the vitally important function of all forms of waste disposal.”
She went on to say that her small garden produces only ‘a few brown paper sacks of waste a year’, but at least this contributes to the environment and biodiversity.
“Now we are being penalised for that,” she explained.
“It’s tantamount to a garden tax. And that isn’t fair.”
Speaking to the News when the changes were first announced, Richard Livingstone, responsible for the environment portfolio at Tooley Street, said government cuts meant the council was forced to ‘find new ways’ of covering costs.