Moves to halt green waste charge
5:30am Saturday 22nd February 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
A LATE attempt to halt the introduction of the green waste charge is to go forward at Monday night’s council meeting.
The Labour group is to put forward an amendment saying the savings the charge is budgeted to make can be found elsewhere.
Residents are being asked to pay a fee of £40 to have their green waste collected, which will come into effect in April.
However, it was revealed the take-up of the scheme has been low, with thousands of bins still in storage waiting to be purchased.
It is hoped the changes will save the council £720,000 but Labour Group Leader Coun Jim Grant (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney) says there are cuts to be made elsewhere.
He says £250,000 can be saved with costs through changes at Forward Swindon, which will include moving the offices back onto council premises. On top of that £262,000 could be saved with cuts to the council’s communication department and a reduction in the use of consultants while another £75,000 can be saved by merging senior positions in the council.
Other cost savings will be found by reducing refreshments in the council and reducing the number of councillors in the cabinet.
Coun Grant said: “We don’t believe that it is right that the council’s consultants budget increases while the council starts charging residents for essential council services that should be universal.
“The Labour Group cannot promise to save every frontline service proposed to be cut next year by the Conservative administration and some might be disappointed that we have chosen to save this service rather than another service. But we have prioritised this service because it is the service residents have said to us they most value.
“These challenging times require a council prepared to stand up for hard-working residents and ensure they feel that their council is working for them. I believe the Labour budget amendment achieves that goal.“ The proposals have been dismissed by council leaders as an attempt to play politics over a sensitive issue. They also say no serious objections were raised as the scheme went through cabinet and while they may have budgeted for the £720,000, nothing has been said about the money already spent.
Coun Richard Hurley (Con, Covingham and Dorcan), the cabinet member for public protection, housing and streetsmart, said: “This is something which has gone through the council and the cabinet before it was agreed and I did not hear anything from Labour councillors about that.
“I feel this is just Labour being a bit mischievious. Many of their proposals would not be of a benefit to Swindon.
“For example, Forward Swindon does a lot to bring in business and investment into the town so it would make no sense to get rid of them.”
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