Controversial Calderdale waste charges outweighing clean up costs of increased fly tipping

Fly tipping in Halifax
Fly tipping in Halifax

Controversial charges for disposing of some types of waste at Calderdale Council recycling centres may be paying off for the council in cash terms, although fly-tipping is increasing.

Calderdale Council’s Place Scrutiny Board noted a petition containing more than 500 signatures, which had been presented to full council and asked for the charges, levied on some types of homeowners’ building waste, to be dropped.

Councillors decided not to take any action over it at the moment as two sets of figures were in play during the debate and they felt there was a need to separate out from overall fly-tipping figures the type of waste that was actually subject to the charges.

This would allow the council to know more surely whether money brought in from charging outweighed the cost of council staff having to clear up these types of waste if it had been fly-tipped.

Halifax, Todmorden and Brighouse recycling centres – the ones in Calderdale set up to take them – have charged for bags of rubble and plasterboard since last November.

Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said there had been an extra 191 cases between January and August this year compared to the same period last year, each costing £90 a time to clear up – an extra cost to the council of £17,191 since the charges had been introduced.

Officers said it was difficult to analyse the impact of extra incidents and charging because the fly-tipping figures did not differentiate between what had been illegally tipped.

Coun Dave Young (Lab, Calder) wanted to know whether fly-tipping had increased since the charges or if it was a problem across the country, and how much money charging had brought in.

Officers said the charges had definitely brought in £120,000 to the council.

Board chairman Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) said: “So we are saying we are on the credit side? Collecting the fly-tipping is a great deal less than that, so overall the council benefits from the charges, is that fair?”

Officers said it was.

Coun Peter Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said the question of whether charging covered the clearing up costs was also on his mind – and he added that whatever the circumstances there was no excuse for fly-tipping.

He said a lot of items being dumped illegally were trade waste rather than domestic, which the council should be charging for anyway.

“I would rather see fly-tippers prosecuted,” said Coun Caffrey.

He also said the council could be clearer about what constituted the waste.

The board will consider the wider issue of recycling at an upcoming meeting which may make the picture clearer.

Coun Sue Holdsworth (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) posed the question of why the council did not allow professional gardeners to dispose of green waste at council sites, but officers said it still needed to be disposed of.

The charges had been introduced because these were types of material the council had to pay to dispose of it itself.

Council recycling centres at Halifax, Todmorden and Brighouse will take up to six bags of these materials maximum at any one visit.

Each bag of rubble will be charged at £2.50, with plasterboard bags at £3 per bag.

Bags used must each be no bigger than a traditional rubble or sand bag – around 50cm high, 35cm wide and 13cm deep – with a maximum of 25kg weight per bag.

The sort of waste that charges will apply to in terms of rubble include ceramic pipes, sinks and pedestals, toilets and bidets, bricks and breeze blocks, concrete and paving slabs, gravel, stones and sand, rubble, hardcore and tarmac and tiles and slates.

The council warns centre operatives will make the final decision on what constitutes plasterboard, hardcore and rubble, and that payments can only be accepted at the centres via debit or credit cards