Labour councillors call for an investigation into ‘garden tax’ plan in Brent

The plan will go before th cutiny committee this evening

The plan will go before th cutiny committee this evening - Credit: Archant

Concerned Labour councillors have rebelled against their colleagues by calling for an investigation into plans to introduce a £40-a-year charge for green waste collection.

Cllr Muhammed Butt is the leader of the council

Cllr Muhammed Butt is the leader of the council - Credit: Archant

The eight politicians claim ‘crucial information’ was missing when the ‘garden tax’ proposal was rubber-stamped last month.

Councillors Shafique Choudhary, John Duffy, Janice Long, Neil Nerva, Sabina Khan, Claudia Hector, Ahmad Shahzad and Eleanor Southwood have now ‘called in’ the plans which will go before the town hall’s scrutiny committee this evening.

A proposal has to receive five objections from councillors for it to be called into scrutiny.

Cllr Hector, who represents the Kensal Green ward, said: “We thought maybe it could be discussed a bit longer. There are a few people who have come up to me to say they are not happy, but there are others who are.

“There is no harm in discussing it a little bit more.”

Whilst not opposing the principle of the fee, members have expressed the need for greater clarity on the financial impact on the council and environmental contractors Veolia and how the plans would be monitored and enforced.

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The scrutiny committee, which consists of seven Labour and a sole Conservative councillor, will also explore the possibility to work with other local authorities to allow residents to drop off their green waste at recycling hotspots across the capital.

Committee members will provide their recommendations to the council’s executives – who ultimately decide the fate of the proposal.

Despite the move, Councillor Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, welcomed the scrutiny, labelling it as “integral” to the democratic process.

He said: “There is only one Lib Dem councillor and a handful of Tories so the only people who hold can properly hold the cabinet into account are my own members.

“The process makes sure that the decisions made are the right ones and have a positive outcome for Brent residents.

“I do listen to people’s views and the cabinet will take into account all recommendations the committee makes.”

Other notable points of discussion include introducing up front payments for recycling bags rather than an annual charge; communication with residents and a proper analysis of options available to the council.

The change is currently due be rolled out in March next year.

The council claim the change will save around £400,000 a year, but some of the savings will be used to fund an increase in the collection of other recyclables such as glass and paper from fortnightly to weekly.

Every household will also be provided with a kitchen caddie and an outdoor container to recycle food scraps which would be collected on a weekly basis free of charge.

Critics of the plan include Paul Lorber, former councillor and leader of Brent Liberal Democrats, who told the Times: “It is clear that Labour are costing local people more and are imposing rip off charges for services which were free before.”

However, Cllr Butt rebuked the claims, dubbing them as hypocritical.

“The cuts made by his own party with the Tories have had a disastrous impact on my residents,” he said.