Councillors Approve Massive Rises In Commercial Waste Fees
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.