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No U-turn on city's 'garden tax'

But bin boss apologises to residents who paid for collection service they never received

Councillor Lisa Trickett (Lab, Moseley and Kings Heath)
Councillor Lisa Trickett (Lab, Moseley and Kings Heath)

Birmingham's new cabinet member responsible for bins has apologised to the hundreds of residents who paid for green waste collections which they did not get.

Labour cabinet member Lisa Trickett has admitted the policy was rushed and vowed to make major improvements to get the service right in 2015.

But she has said that there will be no U-turn despite being attacked by the opposition over the chaos at council recycling centres and huge problems with fly-tipping of garden rubbish following the introduction of charges.

"How can the mums in the maisonettes subsidise the millionaires in the mansions," she said, highlighting the fact that, while all 425,000 households in Birmingham pay council tax, only 250,000 have gardens and produce garden waste.

A Lib Dem motion bid to reinstate the £2.5 million per year free service in Birmingham was voted down by the Labour majority.

Coun Trickett said: "The service many have experienced has not been satisfactory, we regret that.

"But we also regret the Government cuts that continue to hurt this city. We apologise and will work to improve the service."

Improvements include technology in dustcart cabs to identify homes who have paid and mark their bins as emptied.

She had said they would have ideally introduced the paid service over two or three years, putting in place alternatives like community compost schemes and increasing capacity at the council tips, but their hand had been forced by the pace of government cuts.

Cancellation of the free unlimited service has saved £2.5 million from the budget.

But opposition Lib Dem and Tories, who put some of the recent local election successes down to the 'garden tax', described the policy as a failure.

The implementation was described by Lib Dem deputy leader Jon Hunt as a 'shambles'.

He said: "They only expected 20 per cent of people to pay and gave no serious thought to the other 80 per cent. It's a failed policy."

Other councillors talked of Gestapo-like bin police rooting through bags and an increase in garden bonfires prompting safety concerns.

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