A SPECIAL panel set up to examine waste charges in Kirklees today urged: Scrap them!
The controversial collection charges must be scrapped, said a special all-party panel set up to look at the impact of the charges imposed by Kirklees Council in April.
And the hard-hitting recommendations from the four-strong scrutiny committee will be submitted to the council Cabinet in a 33-page report on Wednesday - just days after top councillors said charges for the removal of garden and bulky waste were working and would remain.
Panel members Clrs Nigel Patrick (Con, Holme Valley South), Colin Walder (Lib Dem, Dalton), Maggie Blanshard (Lab, Denby Dale) and Graham Simpson (Green, Newsome) concluded the charges were driving a wedge between Kirklees Council and the public and should be binned.
Critics of the charges have argued they hit low income families along with the elderly and disadvantaged who do not have a car and are forced to pay for collection.
Opponents also claim fly tipping has increased around the region.
The policy was introduced to cut the amount of waste produced by households and improve waiting times for the collection of bulky items.
Since April, waiting times have dropped from an average of 28 days to between two and six days.
But the panel reported the drawbacks of the new policy far outweigh any advantages.
Since April, householders have paid £12 for the collection of up to three bulky items, £12 for a fridge or freezer and £20 for garden waste collections of up to six bags.
"Tackling increasing waste is a shared community problem and measures which alienate the public from `being in this together' are potentially counterproductive," the panel wrote.
Additionally, they said the policy's impact on waste reduction could only ever be marginal with less than four per cent of household waste, garden or bulky items subject to charging.
They discovered the policy had not generated the hoped-for income.
When charges came in, it was anticipated £455,000 would be made. That figure has been revised to £50,000.
They have suggested finding other ways of cutting waste including encouraging better use of green bins.
Clr David Payne, Cabinet member with responsibility for the environment, dismissed the panel's findings.
"There's no such thing as a free service. It has to be paid for."
Cutting charges altogether would lead to council tax hikes.
"I'm disappointed the panel made half a recommendation really in saying `no charges' but not then dealing with higher council tax or lower service standards issues.
"I find the whole report disappointing in that I don't feel the conclusions are justified by the evidence."
He said the charges were working.
"In principle it's a success. We accept they require adjusting from time to time."
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