SO, the district council has arbitrarily decreed that anyone living in Huntingdonshire who is fortunate enough to own a property that generates enough garden waste to fill more than one green bin every two weeks and who therefore needs an additional bin, is to be charged £40 a year for the privilege.
It may not have occurred to councillors, but such properties are likely already to be paying a higher than average Council Tax which I thought was designed to cover such minor extra demands on resources.
How did councillors determine the sum of £40? This year's Council Tax leaflet Your Services - Your Council Tax states that it costs £0.95p a week per household to collect waste and recycling material, ie. £49.40 per household per year.
The normal collection involves three bins every two weeks - garden and household waste and recyclables. In other words 78 'pick-ups' per household per year.
If my maths is correct, that is a cost equivalent of £0.63p per bin pick-up. I estimate that in practice a second (additional) garden waste bin is probably only required during six to seven months of the year, which would involve 12-14 single bin pick-ups. Hence, the additional cost should be in the region of £0.63 x 14 = £8.82 and not £40.
The majority of the cost of waste collection and recycling I assume involves men and machines and the cost of transport. When the additional bin is emptied, men and machines are there, and the bulk of the cost is already covered. Yes, it might take an extra 30 seconds to attach one more bin to the lorry but that cost is minimal.
However, as Gary James hinted in his comment to The Hunts Post, the cost of administering a £40 charge to selected residents will undoubtedly increase the administration burden - probably by £31.18 per resident.
Whatever the sum, it is of course an additional 'council-inflicted' burden.
I understand the council's view is that the imposition of a £40 charge represents a 'fair decision'. As explained above, it is clearly nothing of the sort. An extra £40 a year charge is merely a money making exercise which, if devoted solely to the waste disposal budget, would effectively be subsidising those who do not possess an additional bin.
Is that fair? Will their Council Tax reduce? Of course not. And it may not have occurred to councillors that many of their target residents will be OAPs who really need an additional bin and who could find a better use for £40.
Perhaps a 'fair' charge would be £10, and councillors might like to discuss that at the next meeting. Meanwhile, the introduction of a charge should be cancelled or at least delayed until a more reasoned case is submitted. I have already e-mailed two councillors with this suggestion.
Gary James also raises an interesting point regarding a second bin for recycling, for which apparently there is currently no extra charge.
When and where will the next arbitrary charge be imposed? According to the HDC website the £40 charge above is only fixed for one year, so an increase next year is almost certainly guaranteed.
The website also informs that we are the lucky ones - it states that 'a number of councils are charging for all waste collections'. Such diversionary statements are meant to convince us that the council is doing us a favour and that they are doing a good job.
Well, it won't wash. The council is paid to manage our environment with the financial resources that it has, and to pluck a charge out of the air and penalise a minority of its residents to plug a financial gap is simply not good enough.