COUNCIL chiefs have been accused of misleading residents over reasons for introducing garden waste charges.
Stratford District Council (SDC) is introducing a £40 annual charge for the formerly free collection of green waste.
But Liberal Democrat councillors strongly objected to the plan and say the public consultation on the scheme was misleading.
Reasons cited by the Conservative-controlled council for the charge included a 60 per cent reduction in government grant funding – known as a rate support grant.
But Lib Dems argued there had been an overall increase of £1million in the last few years and a further £2million forecast for the current financial year.
Liberal Democrat leader Susan Juned said: “Types of government support change all the time, and overall there has been a huge increase in government support for the district council. To only refer to one grant without explaining the overall position is being very economical with the facts.”
The charge – which will be introduced in June – has left residents divided with some arguing it contradicted the council’s recent commitment to taking action against climate change.
Others were more supportive of the charge – which is already in place in Rugby and North Warwickshire – saying it would cut down emissions and encourage more people to home compost.
But Coun Juned remained sceptical.
“No net environmental benefits have been demonstrated for the new charges. The whole scheme is unfair – the £40 charge may mean nothing to some people but to others, especially pensioners, it could be a major burden, but no concessions have been proposed. The district council’s share of the council tax is £139.12 for a Band D property. That means that an extra £40 charge for a green bin effectively represents an increase of 29 per cent – for absolutely no extra services at all.”
But SDC cabinet member Ian Shenton argued other grants – namely the New Homes Bonus – had also been reduced and moves to cut carbon emissions, after the climate emergency declared by the council in summer, would add to financial pressures.
He said: “It is unfortunate that the Lib Dems have chosen to vote against this proposal especially as their leader is also chair of the council’s Climate Emergency Task and Finish Group and is well aware of the initiatives and financial pressures.
“We, as the Conservative-led council, must plan ahead, not bury our heads in the sand in the hope that this will go away. We are not afraid to make the responsible and sometimes difficult decisions and, therefore, it was decided that we should act now to ensure that the council is in a stable financial position and more resilient to changes in central government funding.
“It is more environmentally friendly if households compost their green waste at home but the service will be there for those that do want to subscribe. However, whilst there may be green benefits this is a financially driven decision and we are not hiding from that fact.”