Petition launched: Residents browned off by Fenland’s garden bin plan

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A Fenland Council proposal to begin charging for its brown bin service will hit the area’s poorest families and disabled the most, it has been claimed.

Chatteris man Lawrence Weetman also claims a £40 annual charge to collect garden waste would be a “back-door way” for the authority to increase its portion of the council tax bill – and he has launched a petition to fight it.

The council, which currently provides a free brown bin service to 40,000 of Fenland’s 43,000 homes, says it is consulting residents on whether they would be happy to pay for the collections.

It says it is not legally obliged to provide brown bin collections, alongside the statutory green and blue ones, and although originally funded by a one-off government grant, the service now costs the authority £700,000 a year.

A spokesman said: “Cuts in government funding mean we have to make savings – hence this proposal to introduce a charge, which would bring us into line with more than half the local authorities in the Eastern region.”

Mr Weetman said the proposed charge would “disproportionately” affect the poorest families as it represents a 3.5 per cent increase in council tax for people living in Band A properties, but only a 1.1 per cent rise on top of the bill for those living in the largest, most valuable, Band H properties.

“If the funding was obtained through council tax it would be more evenly spread and would hit poorer people less,” he said. “This is particularly important given that people in Band A properties are far more likely to have smaller gardens and, as such, produce less garden waste.