Start of Edinburgh '˜garden tax' postponed until October

THE Capital's controversial £25 a year charge for the collection of garden waste has been delayed.

The charge - branded the “garden tax” by opposition parties - was due to be introduced in July. But councillors have now been told it will come into effect from October 8.

Free collection of brown bins will now continue over the summer.

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Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Lang said the new charge should be dumped on the scrap heap.

The charge was due to start in JuneThe charge was due to start in June
The charge was due to start in June

He said: “We were first told the tax would come in during April. Then it was July and now it is October. It is clear SNP and Labour councillors dreamt up the new tax without any clear idea as to how it would work or how it could be implemented.

“The administration should end its obsession with charging people for such a basic council service. It is a tax which nobody wants and nobody voted for in last year’s elections. Rather than just delaying it, SNP and Labour councillors should scrap their garden tax plans altogether.”

Green councillor Steve Burgess said his group remained sceptical about the scheme.

“The delay in introducing charges for brown bins will certainly be welcomed by residents and takes the start date out of the peak period for garden waste which is probably sensible. However, I don’t really see how the council can still achieve its budget saving of £1.3m.

“The delay does not address the basic flaws with the proposal: the likely rise in fly-tipping; tensions between neighbours as paid-for bins are used by others; and the complexity of having to pick up selected bins at a time when basic pick-ups are so often missed.”

Tory Jason Rust said the administration had failed to think through the “massive practicalities” in introducing the charge. “The lack of communication with the public to date has been extremely poor and the delay won’t get around the much anticipated problems with misuse of other waste streams and fly tipping. I find it very odd if there are genuine reasons for this delay that it was not scheduled for this timescale to start with. However given the chaotic nature of the implementation plans, a delay undoubtedly makes sense, if this scheme is regrettably to come into force.”

Labour backbencher Scot Arthur said the policy of charging for garden waste collection had been forced on Edinburgh as a result of Scottish Government cuts. “Nonetheless, I welcome this delay as the council needs to communicate the policy to residents properly and have contingency measures in place to deal with the extra fly-tipping which will undoubtedly come with its implementation.”

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Transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes said: “Introducing the new garden waste service in October will allow us to align changes with the implementation of a new four-day week working pattern, simplifying the transition for residents.”

She said residents would be contacted later this month with details for registering for the service and insisted the budgeted savings from the scheme would still be made.