Eastleigh’s householders will have to fork out almost 8% more to have their garden waste bags collected from April next year it was revealed at a meeting of the council’s cabinet last Thursday.
The cost for a garden waste bag will cost £30 a year – one of a raft of inflation busting rises planned to increase council revenue by 4% overall following the annual review of council corporate fees.
This comes just as the government have announced they would like to see council tax frozen for the third year running.
EBC had been hoping to introduce a tax rise at 1% below the rate of inflation (RPIX). Currently this would mean a rise of 1.9% – any higher than this and they would be forced to hold a referendum.
While the council intended to peg council tax increase at 1% below RPIX they also plan to increase the yield from fees and charges by 1% above RPIX – the proposed overall rise of 4% could potentially offset loss of revenue from council tax.
Although council tax increases are now being effectively capped or frozen, there is no restraint on rises for council charges for services and earlier this year allotment holder Alex Mullins successfully took the council to the small claims court over last year’s 60% rise in allotment fees.
Speaking form the floor, the Leader of the Conservative opposition group Godfrey Olson asked the cabinet chairman – Council Leader Keith House what was the total extra income expected as a result of the increase in charges.
Cllr House replied:
“We don’t look at fees in that way,”
“Most of the fees are business units – we are looking to cut the cost of the service provision as opposed to net income to the council” adding that it “Wasn’t a significant figure in terms of the budget process”.
On the subject of garden waste bags Cllr Louise Bloom said she felt it is a popular service and good value for money:
“It is still less than 58 pence per week. People are willing to pay, it is a growing service and the number of people subscribing to the service is increasing year on year”.
The charge for householders disposing of bulky items goes up 9.5% to £46.
Cllr Olson was concerned this could lead to an increase in fly tipping but the Chairman said there was no evidence to suggest that was so, while Cllr Bloom reasoned:
“If people can afford a new three piece suite they can afford to pay for (the old one) to be disposed of appropriately”.
Most of the proposed rises will affect businesses, with many types of licensing showing increases.
Pest control fees are rising for business users but are frozen for domestic premises.
Charges for cemeteries, parking (including resident’s permits), country parks, sports pitches and allotments have been devolved to local area committees and did not come under discussion.
Charges for Fleming Park Leisure Centre and The Hub are decided by separate committees with leisure charges coming under consideration today (October 16).
Fees for leisure centre membership will be frozen next year but there are increases planned for a wide range of sports activities including swimming for juniors.
In 2010 the council axed a free swimming programme for under than 16s and over 60s’, now from April senior swimmers will have to pay £286 a year to enjoy unlimited swimming.
Charges for the hire of facilities at The Point will be frozen this year except charges for meeting rooms which will actually be reduced. The explanation for the reduction –that this is due to ‘tactical pricing’ – led Cllr Olson to question if it was in fact, actually due to lack of demand, observing that at the time the rooms were commissioned as premises for hire he had:
”Wondered if premises without parking would be terribly attractive”.
If the council complies with the government directive to freeze council tax rises again this year it will be the 11th straight year of zero or below inflation rises.