Minister hits out at council's controversial brown bin fee
LOCAL Government secretary Eric Pickles has told the House of Commons he is "disappointed" by Derby City Council's plans to charge for brown bin collections.
The Labour-led authority is set to bring in a fee of £40 per year from 2014 for households wanting them collected. Additional bins would cost £20 each.
The charge forms part of the council's plans to save £62 million over the next three years in the face of cuts to its grant from the Government.
Mr Pickles was asked about the bin plans by Mid-Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham, who asked "what recent discussion he'd had with the city council on its refuse collection policies".
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Mr Pickles replied: "I have had no discussions with the council, but I am disappointed to hear of plans by the Labour council to charge residents for collecting their garden waste."
He added: "There is a very good case for comparing that bin tax with what the neighbouring Amber Valley Borough Council is doing.
"That Conservative authority is about to introduce a new recycling service, which will be more convenient for households and will reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill, and includes a free garden waste collection service.
"That is good practice and I encourage other councils to follow suit."
The borough scheme involves households paying a £20 one-off fee for the brown bin itself, with the collection service provided for free from April. It currently charges a £40 annual fee.
Councillor Ranjit Banwait, cabinet member responsible for waste collection, said the charge was not a "tax" as people could chose whether to pay or not.
He said: "I can't believe the audacity of the man who has forced Draconian cuts on this council to criticise how we have set our budget. It's bully-boy tactics."
He said the charges had already been brought in by about a third of councils across the country, including some that were Tory-led, and that the Derby move would lead to a saving of £1.2 million. The council aims to save another £500,000 by collecting all recyclable waste in one single blue bin.
Mr Pickles's comments come after 3,268 visitors to the Derby Telegraph's website voted on whether they agreed with the charges.
Of these, 92% were against it and 8% for.