Words: Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
Leeds City Council is set to scrap bulky waste collection charges in its upcoming budget, in a move described as “an overdue U-turn” by a West Leeds opposition councillor.
The controversial charges, first introduced in February 2018, saw a £20 charge introduced for collection of large household items from people’s homes. This later rose to £30.
The so-called “DIY tax” has long been an issue for opposition parties, who have argued since its introduction that it has contributed to a huge rise in flytipping across the city.
Leeds City Council has said it wants to make the change, which is expected to lead to a loss of income of £300,000 a year, due to the likely additional demand for collections in the future.
Leader of Leeds City Council’s Conservatives group, Coun Andrew Carter (Calverley & Farsley) said:
“These charges never made sense and I’m glad the administration is finally proposing to remove them. The charges placed an unnecessary financial burden on Leeds residents, one which we repeatedly argued should be scrapped.
“It is disappointing that our proposed amendments, over successive budget rounds, were always voted down. This U-turn on the charges is welcome but certainly overdue.”
Leeds City Council’s proposed budget papers, set to go before the decision-making executive board next week, stated:
“The budget reflects the proposal that the Council removes the current charges for collections of bulky waste from residents. In anticipation of additional demand, an additional crew will also be added to the Cleaner Neighbourhoods Team. The total cost, including the loss of budgeted income, is £308,000.”
A motion brought by the council’s Conservatives group last year had called on the scrapping of the charges, claiming government statistics showed a rise of 776 per cent in fly tipping incidents across Leeds between 2012 and 2020.
It followed the rise from £20 to £30 for bulky household waste collections that was introduced by the council in 2021.
The scrapping of the charges comes as part of the authority’s annual budget report, which is set to be discussed by members of the council’s decision-making Executive Board on Wednesday, February 9.
The final budget is expected to be approved at a full Leeds City Council meeting later this month.
Council to set up ‘environmental crime team’ to tackle dumpers
Leeds City Council is expected to set up its very own team of officers to “focus on serious and organised environmental crime”, according to new documents seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Sweeping reforms set to take place in the council’s waste disposal service also include increasing opening hours at municipal tips and a new anti-littering campaign.
The plans, set to be discussed by council decision-makers next week, come alongside budget proposals to scrap charges for household bulky waste collections.
A paper, set to be discussed by the council’s Executive Board, proposes to establish a “Serious Environmental Crime Team”, claiming this would:
“Provide a more effective deterrent to those who commit organised environmental crime with an increased success rate and publicity of prosecutions.
“The current capacity and expertise within Cleaner Neighbourhoods Teams is limited and requires a more dedicated approach.”
Organised environmental crime often involves unlicensed disposal companies illegally dumping rubbish.
It added that this would initially be led by one manager and an extra four environmental team posts, transferred from the council’s cleaner neighbourhoods team “to develop specialist capabilities and expertise”.
Kirkstall recycling centre opening extended
Other plans include increasing the opening hours for commercial disposal of household waste at Kirkstall and Seacroft household waste recycling centres, to allow people to dispose of waste during the weekends.
“The council provides facilities for commercial/trade waste disposal at these two sites but is currently closed Saturday afternoons and Sundays. By increasing the opening times this will help those carrying/collecting waste to dispose of their waste legally and responsibly all weekend. The increase in income will pay for the increase in opening times.”
Other proposals include introducing a scheme to make it easier for Leeds residents to find a local waste company to allow them to dispose of waste, as well as a new anti-littering campaign for 2022.
It added: “This growing social action movement promotes and encourages residents to take action in their neighbourhoods to do something about litter/waste. It plays an important role in helping bring about behavioural change and increased personal responsibility.”
The paper will be discussed by Leeds City Council’s Executive Board on Wednesday, February 9.