Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 27 May 2012

This isn't just any "Council Tax Freeze". This is a Bracknell Forest "Council Tax Freeze"...

I don't often write about local issues on this blog but this one has really pissed me off.

Our local council (Bracknell Forest) has just started charging £30 per year for collecting garden waste. They introduced a garden waste collection scheme back in 2006 where the options were to purchase a sturdy paper bag for 50p a pop each time or spend £30 on a plastic bin which we were promised would be a one-off payment entitling us to have our garden waste collected every fortnight.

It turns out that these promises were worthless. According to the council's leaflet on this garden waste collection is "discretionary" and they don't have to provide the service, hence the charge. That seems very strange to me. Before the recycling scheme started, everything just went in the same bin. Now garden waste that must surely be produced by a large proportion of local residents is deemed not worthy of collection without an extra charge?

But what really gets my goat about this stealth tax increase is how it has been slipped under the radar whilst our local MP, Dr Phillip Lee writes in our local paper about how proud he is of the "fact" that his council has been able to "freeze" council tax this year.

It makes me wonder what other services we all thought we paid for are going to turn out to be  discretionary in future.

"Come on Mark" I hear you argue vituperatively. "Not everyone has a garden. It's only right that you pay your fair whack!".

And that is where this extra charge for us on our estate is adding insult to injury. Because we live on a new estate that was built in 2004 we have to pay an annual "estate management charge" to a private company which pays for things like upkeep of the grass in the communal areas and a play area. Those charges are around £300 per year. But for people who happen to live in older houses/estates in our constituency there is no such charge; those things are paid for out of the council tax. That I contribute to. It's a scam as far as I am concerned that new estates when they are built now often have these covenants put into the contract between the builders and the council to limit what the council has to pay for. But of course we get no discount on our council tax for this. So frankly that argument cuts very little ice with me.

Of course I totally understand that times are tough and councils need to save money, I don't have a particular problem with that in principle. I do however have a problem with our council introducing stealth charges on the quiet whilst loudly shouting about how they have "frozen" our council tax bills.

No they haven't. They've just increased it by around 2%.


Andrew K said...

I also imagine there is no difference for the charge whether you are in band A or band F (and hence the amount of garden waste that may be generated).

Tom Mein said...

Do not worry Mark, another couple of terms of the socialists in power and the councils will only be able to afford to pay their salaries and their own pensions, plus as a bonus they can say that they are "too big to fail".

Calloways Cornelius Nursery said...

I am agree with Andrew Your ideas..
Thank you for post.

Gareth Aubrey said...

What's Bracknell Forest doing with residual waste at the moment? It may be "discretionary" by the legal definition, but with Landfill Tax at £64/tonne and escalating its pretty barmy not to do it. (Although that said, you have to wonder how much waste each subscribing household would have to produce for the council not to come out ahead financially...)

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