Councillors Approve Massive Rises In Commercial Waste Fees

moorwell dump with truckScilly’s businesses have to pay for their rubbish. And the more they pay, the less they’ll generate.

That was the view of Council Vice Chairman Steve Sims, speaking at yesterday’s Full Council debate into proposals for massive rises in some commercial waste charges.

But in the same meeting, one councillor voiced concern when he revealed that the Town Hall is paying consultants £1,000 each day to come up with their waste plan.

Councillors agreed to the hike in fees, which will see the cost of disposing wood and cardboard triple from the current £100 a tonne to £300, while plastics, insulation and mixed skip waste will double.

Senior Infrastructure Officer Helen Pearce wrote in a report presented to councillors that the rises were necessary to cover the actual costs of the new policy of shipping those materials to the mainland.

And she says the council taxpayer can no longer subsidise that activity.

But several councillors complained that financial information wasn’t made available to understand how the new fees have been calculated.

Cllr Christine Savill said, “I don’t mind making difficult decisions but I do like evidence in front of me to make them.”

Her own research using last year’s Council accounts showed that around £98,000 had been paid by the Authority to subsidise trade waste operations.

She also reminded members that they’d only increased waste charges back in May, when officers predicted that would double the income for the commercial waste operations and start to reduce the deficit.

Chris wanted to know whether, if they approved the new rates, the deficit would be wiped out by the next financial year or would they be “sitting down in six months time to raise fees again.

Helen Pearce said it was “difficult to say” but she hoped it would “start to bring it down.”

Cllr Sims felt that “all you need to know is how much it costs per tonne and how much we’re charging.”

He said it was “cut and dry” and money had to come from somewhere or “the Council will go to the wall.”

And Steve felt the charges should be even higher. If they put it off until next financial year, he said, they’ll be looking at losses of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Cllr Andy Guy was concerned about why the Council was bringing in consultants at the cost of £1,000 a day to help them formulate the plans.

But Cllr Gaz O’Neill felt that if they’d been paid that much, it would be “extremely illogical for us to ignore that advice.”

Andy also wanted to know why cardboard was being sent for landfill at a cost of £300 a tonne, when it could be recycled and earn £120 a tonne.

Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith, who chairs the new committee that covers waste management, said the cost of the new approach of shipping waste to the mainland is “very high” and they “need to manage waste in order to minimise the quantity and tonnage.”

“People have been able to dump waste at the Council’s expense and drive off without further thought,” he said. “You can see the consequences of that at Moorwell.”

And while he accepted the charges may seem draconian, he said the way to bring down the cost is to reduce the volume of waste.

Cllr Colin Daly felt the huge and sudden increases could be a big shock for the islands’ businesses to take. He asked whether the fees could be phased in over two years.

But Council Chairman Amanda Martin was against that. She said that would still mean the Authority was subsidising it.

“We’ve been subsidising it for decades,” responded Colin.

Although councillors voted to increase the fees as recommended, they rejected plans to transfer responsibility for setting future charges to the Senior Management Team, made up of a few high level councillors and officers.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough felt the proposal would “deprive members of their right to democracy” and several other councillors agreed with him.

They didn’t even take a vote on that suggestion.

17 Responses to Councillors Approve Massive Rises In Commercial Waste Fees

  1. Accountant August 6, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    It’s disappointing that despite asking ahead of the meeting, Members were still unable to get any supporting financial information to assist them. And having now watched the debate, one wonders how much have they lost already?

    Members approved a RESOLUTION to increase fees by 2.2% in March 2015, and appear to have assumed it was implements. However it seems that officers may have ignored that decision. The waste manager mentions in the meeting that the £3 commercial bin bag charge was frozen, and indeed the figures in the table of the report also show all the other fees as they were before the increase as well.

  2. Todd Stevens August 5, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Consultants? Anyone can set up a consultancy firm and charge what they like. It doesn’t mean they are qualified. It doesn’t matter what a consultant says as they can be wrong.

    STOP wasting extortionate fees on unnecessary overly expensive consultants and that money can be better used directly on this problem instead. Also, from what I can see, the local firm came up with a cheaper solution to deal with the rubbish £200 cheaper per ton than the unhealthy incinerator did at £485 per ton- why not consult with them- at least they understand the real issues here and and are probably better qualified and wont charge £1000 a day for a consultation.

  3. Ray Wornes August 5, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    It seems to be the case that advice given to this Council by Consultants is neither right for Scilly nor in any way consistent with our needs. Is Andy right? Are we failing to recycle when we can save £300 in landfill costs and actually earn £120 per tonne by recycling cardboard on the mainland and with no environmental damage?. It’s a no brainer. If we take the advice of consultants we will soon be introducing a limited amount of recycling in a co-mingled bag for which we get nothing. This is just unbelievable. I objected to this plan on the Waste Forum and got jumped on. I’ve always believed the best plan is to send as much of our waste as possible for recycling to save the site fees and the landfill taxes going to CCC and the Gov’t. and I was given to think in the beginning that the Council was of the same opinion. Consultants are now giving us advice that undermines that plan. Their policy may suit the waste industry but it doesn’t work for us. I have always said that we needed to employ the advice of Councils that are already recycling up to 80% of their waste and can teach us how to do it. Their advice would be from a Council’s point of view not the waste industry’s viewpoint or Gov’t or local business. But would DEFRA fund recycling advice from another Authority? As far as I know that was never followed up by Officers.
    The boat transportation charge was I believe £25 per tonne now it is £40 per tonne and is not justified and should be reduced to £30 per tonne for two years to help get us started. £1000 per day for advice that we shouldn’t use. Get real Gaz. No one seems to be earning their money at the moment. So what’s going on Councillors? Is this an attempt to undermine transportation altogether? Whilst we continue to ship out black bag waste to landfill at exhorbitant prices then the whole scheme has been directed towards crisis. Why on earth haven’t we started shipping our recyclables which is the most important and sensible part of the original strategy? Why aren’t Councillors addressing the inconsistencies? We need to go back to the beginning and get the strategy right with advice from an appropriate Council before we do anything else. Everyone must know that it’s possible that this latest price rise could simply encourage open burning and fly-tipping. I could go into all sorts of senarios which could be behind this plan. This Council is not entitled to leave residents in a constant state of fear for their area’s future.

  4. Steve Sims August 5, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    The point I made over and over in the meeting was that all the money for ongoing waste management has to be generated in the Islands. With the current (previous now) pricing structure for commercial waste the situation was unsustainable. The choice isn’t a hard one we have 4 options, stop dealing with it full stop, which we can do, increase council tax to compensate, over the 2% limit, run down reserves until the authority topples over or simply charge businesses an amount, which makes the commercial waste cost neutral to the council and the domestic rate payer.

    The simple logic is for commercial waste is Unit Cost per tonne minus Unit Price should be zero or positive or it comes from domestic rates which isn’t fair and is probably illegal.

    Even with the new structure there is still a subsidy for commercial waste users which means other things being equal the charges should be higher, I wasn’t saying they ought to be.

    And yes Adam I do benefit from the new road, but so do a lot of other people.

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins August 5, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Is it legal to burn our own cardboard here rather than on the mainland and if not, why not and what is the difference? Surely you should be encouraging the use of natural packaging and penalising non renewable and non biodegradables?
      What is the charge per ton for shipment to the mainland?
      In your time on the transport committee, what action did you take to asses the affordability of import & export costs regarding viability of trade & private living costs and what safeguards exist? What do you have to say regarding the recently reported story that your transport committee was just a talking shop and had been sacked of its duties as our representative to the transport minister? Can you give assurance that your authority is not supplying contradictory evidence to undermine the case for assistance? Have you calculated the exact benefit the £12m quay extension will bring islanders & visitors versus say 6 years freight subsidy?

      • Maxine August 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm

        Untreated (not plastic coated) and corrugated cardboard is very useful in the compost bin or heap, especially layered between green and brown garden waste. It is also a very good weed suppressor, A few layers, weighted down with stones, and it feeds the soil as it rots.

      • Ewart August 6, 2015 at 7:36 pm

        Mr A Morton.
        It is legal to have a bonfire on the 5th. of November to celebrate Guy Fawkes.
        If you do hold a bonfire, I would suggest carrying out a rick assessment and having facilities readily available to control such a bonfire.
        Good luck!!!!

    • High Lanes Drifter August 5, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      This council is knee jerking and lurching between one poorly considered action and the next. It is unforgivable and indefensible that timely and appropriate financial information is not provided to our elected members to allow them to act with at least the semblance
      of semi-professional coordination.
      These new managers are making members look like fools. It is becoming embarrassingly obvious that the new, very expensive top heavy structure is decidedly and fatally flawed. The buck stops with the chairman and she must know that, it will soon be time for her to once again cry “off with their heads!”.

    • Pedant August 6, 2015 at 12:00 am

      You are the Vice Chairman of council you must have considered what you have written? “Unit Price should be zero or positive or it comes from domestic rates which isn’t fair and is probably illegal.” If you believe your statement you are allowing the council to act improperly.
      “Even with the new structure there is still a subsidy for commercial waste users which means other things being equal the charges should be higher, I wasn’t saying they ought to be.”
      Yes you are, if you are saying they should be higher you are emphatically stating that they ought to be higher, should and ought mean the same thing in this context.

  5. Adam Morton, St.Martins August 5, 2015 at 11:56 am

    Still no mention as how they worked out it was all trade waste. Very convenient for Mr Sims in that a business driving a bus won’t produce any trade waste yet the taxpayer foots the bill for the new roads!
    Quite clever really since the majority of the electorate are Council workers, employees and retirees!

  6. Linguine August 5, 2015 at 11:37 am

    1000 POUNDS a day (that’s ONE THOUSAND POUNDS A DAY for the Linguist) even if this is based on a 5 day week (FIVE DAY WEEK) that’s 260,000 (TWO HUNDRED & SIXTY THOUSAND POUNDS) a year or 2.5 (TWO & A HALF) extra Chief Executives!!!
    I appreciate that the Linguist doesn’t do sums but at this rate and given the absolute paucity of calculation and foresight neither do the current crop of fledgling officers nor those who are allegedly more experienced and charged with their oversight.
    The charges for waste increasing X3 (THREEFOLD INCREASE) beggars belief.
    Tresco is likely to be the single largest producer of commercial waste on the Islands was there no consideration of interests?
    “Yesterday all our troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they’re here to stay,…..”

    • pgh August 5, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      your wrong there Linguine :
      Tresco has its own waste management program and i can tell you they export to st Marys the absolute least amount of waste of any of the off islands.
      the only waste out of tresco is bailed plastic : 6-8 pallets every couple of months which is sent to moorwell for disposal and 1-2 skips of scrap metal which is sent to wheal alfred in cornwall for recycling.

      • Linguine August 6, 2015 at 9:20 pm

        Six to eight pallets of commercial waste is exported to St. Mary’s. This is the most difficult commercial waste to get rid of. By your own statement Tresco is a customer of the service, the owner of that waste should have considered their interest in the item, its not rocket science and its NOT optional.

  7. Colin Bean August 5, 2015 at 11:29 am

    This will only encourage fly-tipping-look at the rear of Museum Flats or the woods near Trenoweth for example.
    Be warned folks-a small skip of builder’s waste from up- grading your house etc will now cost you £500 plus the skip hire.
    Can I also point out that ultimately it will be the customer that pays-not the business-they rightly will pass these costs on to us!!!!

  8. Cobra August 5, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Worth pointing out that the £1000 consultant is paid for by DEFRA and that he is their preferred choice of consultant.

    • Linguine August 5, 2015 at 11:53 am

      Worth pointing out that if only as many as half the Islands residents are eligible to pay income tax this one cost alone would represent 260 pounds (TWO HUNDRED & SIXTY POUNDS for the Linguist) per tax payer if it was only recovered locally, which thank goodness it isn’t!

      • Jonny Exile August 16, 2015 at 10:40 am

        Good point about tax. Not related to your comment but I’ve long thought that councillors would make much better decisions if more of them, particularly those who’ve taken leadership roles, were bearing more of the burden of tax that many of us have to suffer.