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'Why Ipswich Borough Council doesn't charge for brown bin collections'

29 September, 2019 - 17:38
Every district or borough in Suffolk charges extra for brown bin collections, except Ipswich Picture: GREGG BROWN

Every district or borough in Suffolk charges extra for brown bin collections, except Ipswich Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich remains the only council area in Suffolk where there isn't an extra charge for brown bin collections. In his latest column, borough council leader David Ellesmere explains why.

Reports last week highlighted that every council in Suffolk except one charges more than the national average for collecting brown bins.

That one council is of course Ipswich Borough Council which does not charge anything.

We continue to believe that not charging for this service is the fairest, most efficient and most environmentally friendly way of collecting garden waste.

An argument is often made that charging for brown bins is fairer because you "don't have to pay if you don't have a garden".

This argument doesn't really hold much weight because no council that has introduced brown bin charges has ever reduced council tax for people who don't have gardens.

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It is simply an additional charge for something you were already paying for.

Paying for the service through council tax is fairer because properties with small or no gardens are in a lower band and pay less. Those with large gardens are in a higher band and pay more.

Council tax also takes into account ability to pay through the benefits system. There is no discount scheme for people on low incomes for any brown bin collections in Suffolk.

The Government imposes limits on how much council tax can rise every year. There are no limits on how much brown bin charges can rise. They can, and have, gone up by much more than the rate of inflation.

A universal collection system is much more efficient. Under a charging system refuse vehicles may have to travel down a long road just to pick up one bin. In fact, due to highly optimised collection rounds, you may end up with vehicles travelling down roads and without collecting any bins. Clearly this is a waste of fuel and unnecessary carbon emissions.

Where charging is introduced large numbers of people stop using brown bins and divert this waste to landfill or, worse, fly-tipping.

For these reasons the Government too has said it wants all brown bins to be free of charge, but hasn't said how. If this isn't fully funded, councils in Suffolk will see a big hole in their budgets. If it is, councils like Ipswich should see a financial benefit for doing the right thing all along.

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