City Lib Dems challenge council over Garden Tax


Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors have stepped up their campaign against the introduction of a Garden Tax – a charge for emptying garden waste from residents’ brown wheelie bins – by challenging the council  to answer 23 separate questions about the new tax.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill said, “The Garden Tax penalises people who want to do their bit for the environment by recycling their garden waste.

“Like many residents, we want answers to questions about how the unpopular and unwanted Conservative / SNP / Labour Garden Tax will; operate. We also want answers to questions about the environmental impact of the Garden Tax and information about the costs of introducing and administering the Garden Tax.”

Amongst the 23 questions asked by Ian Yuill and the Liberal Democrats in an e-mail to the council’s Chief Executive are:

  • Has the council estimated the environmental impact of introducing the Garden Tax and, if so, what is it? If not, why not?
  • Given that this Garden Tax is almost certain to lead to more garden and green waste being placed in black bins, has the council estimated the additional cost of that (including the additional Landfill Tax that would have to be paid) and, if so, what is that estimated cost? If not, why not?
  • Currently many residents use their brown bins to dispose of leaves from council-owned trees which fall on the pavement outside their homes. Will the council require these community-spirited residents to pay the Garden Tax?
  • If the council fails to empty a brown bin for any reason on a regular collection day will a householder who has paid the Garden Tax be entitled to a refund and, if so, how will that be administered and what will be the cost of that? If it is not proposed to refund people when a collection is missed, why not?
  • If a resident’s brown bin with a “charge paid” sticker attached  is lost or stolen will that resident have to pay an additional Garden Tax to obtain a label to affix to their replacement brown bin?

Ian Yuill continued, “There are currently many more questions than answers about the Garden Tax. People deserve answers from the council.”

Ian Yuill concluded, “At a time when the UK and Scottish Governments are encouraging individuals, businesses and communities to dispose of waste in the most environmentally friendly way possible, it is absolutely crazy to introduce this Garden Tax which penalises those who recycle garden and green waste. The Garden Tax will inevitably lead to lower recycling rates with garden waste either being put into landfill or incinerated. Sadly, Conservative, SNP, Labour and independent councillors seem only to be interested in how much money their new Garden Tax will raise – and not on the impact it will have upon the environment.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors

1. Imposition of the Garden Tax (a £30 annual charge for emptying garden waste from residents’ brown wheelie bins) was agreed at Aberdeen City Council’s budget-setting meeting on 5th March 2019. The Conservative, Labour and Independent councillors who control the City Council voted to impose a £30 charge. The SNP also backed imposing the Garden Tax but wished the charge set at £35 annually. Only the Liberal Democrats opposed introducing the Garden Tax.

2. Ian Yuill’s e-mail of 15th April 2019 to Angela Scott states:

Good Afternoon Angela

I have been contacted by a large number of residents about the Garden Tax – the £30 charge to council is introducing for uplifting domestic garden waste. As I am sure you will understand these residents have asked a large number of questions about its implementation and operation.

I would be very grateful if you could arrange for me to receive responses to the following questions:

  1. When in 2019/20 will the Garden Tax be introduced?
  2. I understand from the media that brown bins from households which have paid the Garden Tax will be distinguished by a label. Will these labels have to be obtained annually by householders or will a label be valid for repeated years provided the resident continues to pay the Garden Tax?
  3. What charge will be made in 2019/20 given that the Garden Tax will not cover a full year in 2019/20? Alternatively, if the £30 charge is to be levied for only part of 2019/20 , what charge will be levied for a full twelve months in future years?
  4. If a resident decides part-way through a year to opt to have garden and green waste collected from their home will they have to pay a full year charge or will they receive a discount on their Garden Tax?
  5. If someone who pays the Garden Tax moves home during the period to which that charge applies, does that individual have to pay a further Garden Tax for garden waste collections from their new home? If so, will they be able to secure a part refund on the Garden Tax paid for their former home?
  6. If the council fails to empty a brown bin for any reason on a regular collection day will a householder who has paid the Garden Tax be entitled to a refund and, if so, how will that be administered and what will be the cost of that? If it is not proposed to refund people when a collection is missed, why not?
  7. As stickers are to be used to distinguish the brown bins of people who have paid the Garden Tax, what controls will be in place to ensure that people who have not paid the Garden Tax do not "acquire" someone else's "charge paid" sticker or brown bin with its "charge paid" sticker attached?
  8. If a resident’s brown bin with a “charge paid” sticker attached  is lost or stolen will that resident have to pay an additional Garden Tax to obtain a label to affix to their replacement brown bin?
  9. If a resident has more than one brown bin, is the Garden Tax levied per bin or per household?
  10. Can neighbours share a brown bin and pay one Garden Tax?
  11. What measures does the council suggest that residents who have paid the Garden Tax take to ensure that residents who have not paid the Garden Tax do not use their brown bins?
  12. Given that this Garden Tax is almost certain to lead to more garden and green waste being placed in black bins, has the council estimated the additional cost of that (including the additional Landfill Tax that would have to be paid) and, if so, what is that estimated cost? If not, why not?
  13. Has the council estimated the environmental impact of introducing the Garden Tax and, if so, what is it? If not, why not?
  14. How will council staff determine whether material in a brown bin from a household which has not paid the Garden Tax is garden waste or food waste? A rotten apple, the outer leaves of a lettuce and many other things could be either garden waste or food waste.
  15. Has any consideration been given to whether distinguishing labelled and unlabelled brown bin and checking the contents of unlabelled brown bins from households which have not paid the Garden Tax will impact on the efficiency of brown bin collection and, if so, what was the result of that? If not, why not?
  16. Given the almost-certain negative impact the Garden Tax will have on recycling levels, does the council intend to offer households composters at a discounted cost to encourage home composting?
  17. Currently many residents use their brown bins to dispose of leaves from council-owned trees which fall on the pavement outside their homes. Will the council require these community-spirited residents to pay the Garden Tax?
  18. What is the projected full-year annual cost of administering the Garden Tax / charge? 
  19. What is the projected full-year gross annual income from the Garden Tax / charge?
  20. What level of confidence do officers have that the projected income targets from the Garden Tax will be achieved?
  21. What one-off set up costs will be incurred in introducing the Garden Tax / charge?
  22. What is the projected full-year cost (excluding the cost of administering the £30 Garden Tax / charge) of collecting residential brown bins containing garden and other green waste in Aberdeen?
  23. What is the projected full-year cost of collecting residential brown bins containing only food waste in Aberdeen?

I look forward to receiving responses to my questions.

Regards

Ian

Ian Yuill


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