Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

40,000 City Families Boycott Bin Charge; Thousands Refuse to Pay Pounds 20 Brown Bin Collection Fee

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

40,000 City Families Boycott Bin Charge; Thousands Refuse to Pay Pounds 20 Brown Bin Collection Fee

Article excerpt

Byline: CLAIRE HENNON

MORE than 40,000 families have boycotted a city bin charge amid claims of a 'stealth tax' on waste.

Across Newcastle, thousands have refused to sign up to a new pounds 20 fee to have their brown bins collected, with council bosses now desperately trying to find somewhere to store all the returned garden waste bins.

City officials say they will store the mountain of brown bins in council salt depots, sparking a rush to sell on the unwanted bins to other councils before the depots are needed to start storing salt from the summer. The snub has also put binmen jobs at risk as council officers admit they will look again at how many staff are needed.

Just over 18,000 homes paid for the service which was offered to 75,000 households in the city. The new charge comes as part of the council's need to slash pounds 30m from the budget following Government spending cuts.

Officers have defended the move as one which brings it into line with other councils.

Rob Nichols, head of environmental services at the council, said: "We recognise the importance of the environment but realistically people need to do their little bit.

"People are sharing a bin and others are happy to take green waste to one of the three recycling centres we've got."

He added: "Many other local councils already charge, such as Northumberland, and some don't even provide it at all.

"We would very much want people to participate, but in terms of the budget we have no alternative but to follow national best practices and put in place a small charge."

Opposition groups say it could prove to be a costly mistake which would see recycling rates drop, while a pounds 4m landfill cost could rise.

Newcastle Gateshead Friends of the Earth UK said they were worried about the problem of fly-tipping and increasing recyclable rubbish sent to landfill.

Mr Nichols said: "We hope to not see an increase in landfill. Garden waste collected in normal bins will be sorted at either the Byker or Ellington centres and garden waste turned into grey compost which will be owned by Sita, our external contractor. …

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