Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps praises council after brown bins charge introduced

PUBLISHED: 16:46 18 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:46 18 January 2017

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has praised the borough council following its decision to introduce fees for brown bin collections.

Councillors last week voted in favour of slapping £35 charges on garden waste collections, which numerous residents and opposition councillors vehemently opposed.

However, Mr Shapps said: “I’m sure it is not easy running a local authority, particularly in times where the budget continues to shrink.

“Many constituents still remember what happens when financial responsibility is forgotten and you end up with a Slough Estates debacle, which cost Welwyn Hatfield taxpayers tens of millions of pounds.

“Fortunately, rather than burying its head in the ground, the current Welwyn Hatfield Council administration is at least prepared to make the difficult decisions that mean we remain solvent.”

A 2,445-strong petition was submitted before the controversial decision, which was met with boos and heckles from the majority of the audience.

But the MP said: “I understand that the brown bin collection costs around £1.5million per year and in the end everyone will recognise that this needs to be paid for one way or other.

“So it is a question of whether council tax has to rise faster or a direct charge is made.”

He also stressed the importance of financial prudence amidst Government funding cuts, and praised the local authority for careful financial management that enabled eight years of freezing council tax.

“This is rarely acknowledged, but that has been a significant achievement by the borough and I think the council deserves credit,” he said.

However, Labour borough councillor Kieran Thorpe claimed council tax freezes were only possible because of a Government grant – which has now been withdrawn – rather than council efficiencies.

Regarding the bins, he added: “It’s a case of the council again making a mess of a consultation with the public, ignoring their view and bringing in charges with no thought, evidence or plans.”

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