A council in Devon has proposed introducing an £80 charge for waste and recycling containers at new-build household properties in the district from 1 April 2020.
Teignbridge district council suggested the charge – which would cover a 180-litre residual waste bin, two 55-litre recycling boxes, a food waste container, an indoor food caddy and a reusable paper sack – would save approximately £50,000 per year.
At a meeting on 14 January, the council’s overview and scrutiny committee narrowly voted to recommend to the executive to introduce the charges, which were proposed by Liberal Democrat Councillor Alistair Dewhirst.
A council spokesperson told letsrecycle.com: “No decision has been made by the council on whether it will introduce a charge for the initial provision of waste and recycling containers to new build properties.
“If a charge is introduced, it will not apply to most residents as the proposal only relates to new properties.
“The idea is being considered because of the financial pressures facing the council and the need to increase revenue to pay for services.
“If agreed, the council will replace any of the containers in future without charge, subject to clear guidelines.”
According to a mid-2018 estimate, Teignbridge has a population of 132,844. The district’s waste is collected by its own in-house service.
The Lib Dem-controlled council’s savings calculations are based on a rate of 620 properties built a year. The executive’s final decision is expected on 10 February.
However, at the overview and scrutiny committee meeting concerns were raised by some councillors opposed to the introduction of the charge.
Conservative councillor Sarah Parker-Khan described the proposal as a “stealth tax” on new households.
She told letsrecycle.com: “While I understand the need for the council to make cost savings where possible, I feel this proposal has not been thought through thoroughly. My real concern was around social and affordable housing occupants and the burden of an additional £80 charge on top of their council tax that would be unaffordable.
“It could lead to fly tipping, stolen bins or people not being able to access the basic public service of having their bin emptied.
“Apparently the £80 charge is the cost to the Council; they have economies of scale so it’s unlikely an alternative can be found that meets specifications, particularly for the wheelie bins.”
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows councils to charge occupiers for receptacles for household waste, but if the occupiers decline to pay, the council cannot force them to do so.
However, the council can require the occupier to provide their own receptacles which conform to its specifications.
The council spokesperson said: “Residents will also be able to provide their own containers, in line with the relevant legislation in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, as long as they meet the specification required.
“In considering the proposal, the council is also reviewing how it might help those who could not afford the charges.”
For the 2018/19 financial year Teignbridge district council had a recycling rate of 56.3%, considerably higher than the national household waste recycling rate of 45.1%.
The council spokesperson moved to allay fears the proposed charge could dent the district’s rate.
The council spokesperson said: “Given the small proportion of residents who will be affected, we do not anticipate any significant impact on recycling.”