There’s a popular tradition in the press for a “You Couldn’t Make It Up” news story, and this is certainly one from West Sussex County Council.
I call it the Tory Tip Tax tale. Just over six months ago, Tory-controlled West Sussex imposed charges for residents for household DIY waste including plasterboard, soil and hardcore, despite everyone objecting. You even have to go and buy the bags you are being charged to dump. The effects have already been pretty disastrous.
A recent update makes startling reading. Since charges began, the volume of Tyres being dumped has reduced by 95%, there’s been a 90% reduction in Soil and hardcore, and a 60% reduction of plasterboard. All much worse than originally estimated. The report, however, was oddly silent about where the rest of it was all going, if it isn’t going into the tips.
Anecdotal reporting over the last few months point to notable increases in fly tipping across the county. In other councils that have done this, as time passes the volumes being dumped at the tips returns to 20% to 50% of the previous volumes. So that means between four-fifths and a half of all the previously dumped material will be finding its way to your local park or alleyway, or domestic rubbish bin. Other interesting details revealed include that no one reckoned to check that these charges would be subject to VAT at the standard 20%.
Also a decision had been helpfully made to take payment by credit and debit card only. Bank charges further reduced the income received by an average of 25 pence. These have reduced the actual overall income by a quarter.
But it’s not all bad news! As the volumes being dumped have been significantly lower than anticipated, there’s been a saving on all those inconvenient running costs of having a tip and there is also a saving from disposal cost, as well, due to the significant reduction in the volumes of material deposited at the sites. No doubt, readers will have picked up the irony in the way this week’s column is written. It would be laughable if the consequences of this Tory administration’s incompetence weren’t so serious.
We say enough is enough, Labour would restore sufficient funding to the HWRS service, so that the charges that have been introduced on DIY waste can be abolished immediately.