Bristol

Green bin charge in South Gloucestershire 'should have triggered vote'

An MP has claimed that an extra charge to collect green waste amounts to a council tax rise which should have triggered a referendum.

Conservative MP Chris Skidmore said the £36 charge in South Gloucestershire was above a 2% threshold which should have led to a vote among residents.

But because the charge is voluntary Mr Skidmore said the move was viewed as a "stealth tax".

A council spokesman said residents were not obliged to pay the charge.

"Fortnightly green waste collection is an optional service for residents, rather than a tax, and those who do not wish to pay are not obliged to do so," a spokesman said.

"There are a number of free alternatives for residents who do not wish to use the opt-in service, including home composting and disposal via our Sort-IT centres."

Frozen bill claims

The council said that national guidelines "identified garden waste as a type of household waste for which a collection charge may be made".

Mr Skidmore, speaking in a Commons debate, added: "South Gloucestershire Council claims to have frozen council tax.

"When we add the £36 green bin charge into the bill of a Band D home, this results in a total increase of more than 2% being paid to the council which would have triggered a referendum."

The debate came after Mr Skidmore handed in a 4,200-strong petition opposing the charge.

He said there had been "overwhelming local opposition" to the charge voted in by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors.

The council has since agreed to review the scheme which came into force on 31 March.

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