Eric Pickles MP criticises Somerset waste charge

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A government minister has called charges introduced at some of the county's recycling centres "utterly counterproductive".

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Eric Pickles said charging for using the "local dump would create perverse incentives" for fly-tipping.

Charges at Somerset community recycling centres were introduced this week.

Somerset Waste Partnership said it was reacting to communities not wanting the centres closed.

The Community Secretary said it would divert taxpayers' money to clean it up.

Mr Pickles added that the government would not "allow municipal bureaucrats to introduce such backdoor bin charges for the collection or disposal of normal household waste".

He said: "People already pay £120 a month in council tax for local services."

'Community preference'

Charges were brought in at Coleford, Crewkerne, Dulverton and Middlezoy to keep the four centres open.

The centres were due to close to save £300,000 a year as part of savings by Conservative-run Somerset County Council.

Their legal status was changed so that they are now called community facilities.

This means that people can now be charged £1.20 at Crewkerne and £2 for the other sites.

Managing director Steve Read said: "We haven't been contacted by the Department for Communities and Local Government to ask about what we're doing.

"If we had, we would have explained the charging was in response to what the community asked us to look at in preference to closing the centres.

"It is not illegal, it is in the spirit of localism."

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