Plans by the Labour-run council to introduce a £16 fee to collect Southwark residents’ bulky waste will lead to an increase in flytipping on the borough’s streets and estates, Liberal Democrat councillors have warned.

The move has angered opposition councillors and residents as it was announced over the summer holidays giving the impression that the Council was trying to sneak the plans through unnoticed.  Liberal Democrat councillors have now delayed the proposed charges after they ‘called in’ the decision for scrutiny by an all-party panel this week.

Southwark does not currently charge for bulky waste collections.  Residents are entitled to have up to fifteen items collected each month.  Labour councillors now want to end free collections in the borough and charge residents £16 each time they want something collected.  The aim is to save the Council money.  Residents who take their bulky waste to the Council’s recycling centre themselves will not have to pay but any other Southwark resident with bulky waste would have to pay £192 each year even if they had just one item for collection each month.

The move has come under fire from Southwark Liberal Democrats because it will:

  • lead to more flytipping on the borough’s streets and estates as people opt to dump their bulky waste rather than pay £16 each time.
  • increase the Council’s spending as flytipping will increase and costs more to clean up than scheduled street cleaning.
  • discriminate against residents without access to a car.
  • hit residents on lower incomes who cannot afford £16 each time they want their bulky waste collected.

Liberal Democrats are calling for the planned charges to be dropped or for at least residents on lower incomes to be exempt from the charges, but the Council aims to raise £175,000 a year from the charge.  Liberal Democrats are also asking the Council why information has not been provided on whether flytipping has increased in other councils which have introduced collection fees.  There were 5,563 reported flytipping incidents in Southwark in 2014/2015 – an increase of 53% on the previous year.  This is a record high since Labour took control of the Council.

Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, Councillor Rosie Shimell, said:

“We are slowly seeing the end of a cleaner, greener Southwark under Labour.  Earlier this year the Council introduced charges for food waste collection bags.  Now they want to charge for bulky waste collection.  What will be next?

“These new charges will hit those on lower incomes and those without a car the hardest.  Yet Labour is not even considering exemptions for these residents.  So much for their promise of a fairer future for all.

“It is also worrying that Labour councillors tried to sneak these new fees over the summer hoping that nobody would notice.  This policy never featured in their manifesto last year and will end up costing the Council more in the long run tackling the flytipping these new charges will produce.

“Liberal Democrats are fighting residents’ corner and are calling on Labour councillors to throw out these short-sighted plans. There were record 5,500 flytipping incidents in Southwark last year.  These new charges will just make a bad situation even worse.  Residents and our local environment deserve better.”

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