The second thing that people have been telling us time and again on the doorsteps over the last two years is that they resent Labourâ€™s Â£40 garden tax. When we came into power in 2006 the old Labour council was charging 50p a bag for pink biodegradable plastic sacks â€“ they were excruciatingly expensive for the council to buy. The collection was on alternate weeks so people often left these sacks out on the wrong day. In 2006 the Boroughâ€™s recycling rate was 19%. Our approach was that recycling should be easy and free. We got rid of the 50p charge and made the collection weekly. Due to this and other changes we doubled the Boroughâ€™s recycling rate in 4 years. When we left power in 2010 it was 38%.
When Labour proposed its Â£40 garden tax 5,000 people signed a petition against it but Labour carried on with its plans anyway.
Labour took us backward â€“ charging Â£40 for the garden waste service and making it bi-weekly again and completely stopping it for weeks over Christmas. In 2012/13, when the new contract was introduced, the constant increase in recycling rates we had been used to halted. The administration is hoping to achieve 43% this year (we havenâ€™t seen the final figures yet).
This chart shows the annual recycling rate as published in the council annual performance report.
Under the Conservatives recycling in the Borough doubled from 19% to 38%. Under Labour it has gone up a very modest 5% from 38% to 43%. We believe that a free, weekly garden waste service is key to getting recycling going again and we will make this change when we are elected. The change is relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider the high number of garden waste fly-tips we are experiencing.