Hundreds sign 'tip tax' petition against changes to Calderdale waste centres

Charges and changes have been introduced to waste centres in Calderdale
Charges and changes have been introduced to waste centres in Calderdale

More than 100 people signed a new petition protesting against a “tip tax” in Calderdale on just its first day, organisers have revealed.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats opened the petition online on their website this week protesting against new charges introduced to dispose of some types of rubbish and against changes to how Calderdale Council is operating its waste transfer stations.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council, Coun James Baker (Warley) branded charges to get rid of what can be described as household building rubbish as “a tip tax” and said his party was campaigning for the charges and a new permit scheme to be scrapped.

The new charges were introduced from December 3 by the ruling Labour group and mean each bag of rubble will be charged at £2.50, with plasterboard bags at £3 per bag, with a maximum of six bags per single visit.

The council has waste transfer stations at Halifax, Brighouse, Elland, Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden, with the Halifax, Todmorden and Brighouse centres the only ones which will take the rubble and plasterboard.

And residents using recycling centres at Brighouse and Elland are subject to a trial permit scheme, having to produce ID before they can use them.

The ID permits are free and issued at those two site offices on production of a valid driving licence or similar – passport, bus pass, blue badge – as photo identification and a recent utility bill (no more than three months old) as proof of address.

Cabinet member for Communities and Neighbourhood services, Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden), said the changes had been introduced to ensure the centres could continue to operate and maintain existing opening hours while managing savings the service had to make.

The required savings – or the service making extra money to fill the gap – were approved by councillors when budgets were agreed earlier this year.

She said when the changes were announced: “In order to do this, it’s necessary to make some changes to the way our centres operate. These changes have been carefully considered, taking into account disposal costs and how other authorities operate,” she said.

But Coun Baker said he feared the changes would have a negative effect.

“We are very concerned about the amount of fly-tipping that is taking place across the borough and have been pressing the council to take effective action to tackle this,” he said.

“Part of this action should be making the council’s own tips easy and cheap to use.

“These latest changes seem to us to do just the opposite.”

He said the new permit scheme had been introduced on a trial basis, and Liberal Democrats hoped the Council will carefully assess its effects, said Coun Baker

“The charges, though, seem to be planned as a permanent fixture, so we would urge people to sign our petition as soon as possible to make their feelings on this ‘tip tax’ known.”

Calderdale’s Conservatives also voiced concerns about the changes.

The council issued clarification to people taking items to the recycling centres on behalf of residents who were unable to take these themselves.

They must take the residents’ appropriate ID to get a permit as this proved the waste was being disposed of on behalf of a Calderdale resident.

In terms of household building waste, restrictions include that 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 payments can only be accepted at the centres via debit or credit cards.

If the permit scheme at Brighouse and Elland proves successful it will be rolled out at the other Calderdale centres.