CONTROVERSIAL waste reforms which include charging £40-per-year for green bin collections have been given the go ahead by councillors.
Cheshire West and Chester convened a special in person meeting of Full Council on Tuesday evening at Chester Racecourse Pavilion to discuss a new 10-year waste strategy, which has been a source of huge division between the authority's Labour and Conservative groups.
The plans include:
The main source of controversy has been the £40 garden waste charge.
At the meeting, members of the Labour group argued that garden waste collection is not a statutory service – meaning the council is not legally obliged to provide it – adding that a number of other authorities, including some Conservative councils, already impose such a charge.
Cheshire West and Chester Council's cabinet member for environment, highways and strategic transport, Cllr Karen Shore, told the meeting: "The current strategy has not been reviewed since 2002 and it's not fit for purpose in a changing world."
She added: "Labour has had to make tough decisions to compensate for failing Tory privatisation, these tough decisions include charging for a non-statutory service in order to sustain the overall waste management service going forward."
But Conservatives branded it a 'stealth tax' and said residents had already been hit by successive council tax rises in recent years. Concerns were also raised about affordability and that it could result in an increase in fly tipping. They tabled a motion calling for the plans to be called back to cabinet, but that was rejected in a vote.
Cllr Mark Williams (Conservative) said: "I've talked to some very elderly residents and there's some real poverty out there. Some tell me that a third of their pension goes towards council tax."
Cllr Shore said support would be put in place for those who could not afford to pay.
The motion was passed with 36 voting in favour and 33 against. The green waste charges are due to be introduced next March.
(Part of a report from the Standard)