Attempts to ditch bin charge plans rejected by Welwyn Hatfield Council
PUBLISHED: 09:27 25 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:27 25 November 2016
Attempts to scrap "morally abhorrent" waste collection proposals were rebuffed at a full-blooded council meeting this week.
Welwyn Hatfield Council previously sought residents’ views on charging for garden waste collection – providing £35, £50 or £70 options – which resulted in a public backlash.
Both opposition groups on Monday launched motions to scrap the plans, claiming introducing fees would increase fly-tipping, lessen recycling and ignore residents’ opinions.
Councillors also deplored the local authority’s “deeply flawed” questionnaire, which several claimed “railroaded” respondents into unwanted answers.
In a torrent of criticism, Lib Dem Paul Zukowskyj said slapping on fees would “put recycling back 30 years”, while Labour leader Kieran Thorpe blasted “inflation-busting pay rises” recently granted to the leader and cabinet.
During an impassioned speech, Cllr John Fitzpatrick said: “This is being done by the back door. You are here to represent people. Start representing them and apologise.”
However, Tory leader John Dean said the consultation was “an open an honest attempt to get information from residents”, despite not providing an option to keep collections as they are.
“We prefer to be open and transparent,” he told irate opposition members. “We do not believe it would have been helpful to introduce an option in the questionnaire that is not sustainable.”
Environment portfolio holder, Helen Bromley, claimed fees could be fairer, as all residents currently pay for the service through council tax, despite some not actually using it.
Those thoughts were echoed by councillor Sara Johnston, while Hatfield Villages representative Duncan Bell claimed Government cuts meant the decision could not be “kicked down the road forever”.
Cllr Dean added: “I can assure you that the business case for charging for waste has been very carefully thought out.
“Over the next three years the council is looking at a £2million budget gap, which has to be bridged, and this is one way we can see of helping to start to bridging that gap.”
Both motions were rejected by the council.