Row erupts over Calderdale's ‘tip tax’ and empty shops

Ongoing fly tipping problems in Calderdale
Ongoing fly tipping problems in Calderdale

Terminology touched a nerve as councillors argued about the effect a charge dubbed a ‘tip tax’ by some of them is having on fly-tipping in Calderdale.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader James Baker (Warley) raised the issue – and the hackles of ruling Labour Group councillors – at the full meeting of Calderdale Council.

“Parts of Calderdale are a tip at the moment, there is fly-tipping everywhere,” he said. “You talk about a vision for Calderdale but it looks like a tip with flies buzzing around it.”

He went on to criticise charges introduced by the council before Christmas for tipping certain types of waste, saying one person he had spoken to had been charged £3 for taking a single tile to her waste recycling centre, trying to be good citizen.

It was a ‘tip tax’ and it was no wonder people would say they would just tip it over a fence if they were poor and just undertaking a bit of DIY. “Will you please stop this tip tax,” said Coun Baker.

Coun Baker also questioned the wisdom of creating more shopping units at part of the Northgate site when there were tens or dozens of empty units in Halifax.

He met with an angry response from senior Cabinet members.

Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden), Cabinet member for Communities and Neighbourhood Services, said the issue was due for scrutiny and questioned use of the catchphrase ‘tip tax’.

“It was introduced to make services more efficient and as far as I am aware our figures do not suggest these charges have increased fly-tipping in the area,” she said. “If it shows, we will take another look at it.”

Leader of Calderdale Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said the phrase was misleading as charges only applied to certain types of rubbish which was not classed as household waste.

“You are scaring people into thinking they will be charged for something and they won’t be charged for it,” he said.

Deputy Council Leader Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) accused opposition parties of talking their area down.

Whether it was the Liberal Democrats on Northgate or the Conservatives over the cost of the Piece Hall renovation, “The story of Halifax isn’t remotely like you are telling it,” he said.

Towns like Halifax were facing difficulties because of changes in shopping habits but were responding to it.

“People are coming to us all the time asking for investment opportunities,” he said, adding about Northgate that proposals were mainly for office space.

“What we are hoping to do is create office space and we have interest to potentially fill all the office space we can build,” he said.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Coun Ashley Evans (Warley) said they were not talking down Halifax.

“We are concerned about it and asking questions to help improve it,” he said.