Fears have been raised that the introduction of a new charge for bulky waste collections could damage efforts to clean up Leeds neighbourhoods already plagued by flytipping.
As previously reported, Leeds City Council is scrapping free bulky waste collections of old items like fridges and sofas in a bid to shave costs from its overall waste management budget.
The authority insists that evidence has shown a small charge for collections -which is yet to be confirmed but could be around £20 - will not impact on or increase flytipping, and it is the only large regional council offering a free service.
However YEP readers are not so sure. In the week that the YEP launched its Keep Leeds Tidy campaign, readers have been having their say about what some believe is tantamount to a new ‘flytipping tax’.
John Blair wrote via Facebook: “Increases in flytipping all around Leeds, so what does LCC decide to do?..stop all free bulky items collections. Another great move.”
Another commenter on the YEP’s website added: “Less collections [will mean] more flytipping. Where is the council’s brains?”
However Martin Walker said: “People choose to litter and fly-tip - it is a conscious decision but everyone is so quick to blame the council for trying to save money and put it into essential services. Maybe people should take responsibility for their own actions!”
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for the environment and sustainable communities, stressed that Leeds had been one of the few local authorities that still have a free collection.
She said the council has “certainly considered” the possibility that cancelling free collections could send flytipping figures higher, but neighbouring authorities who already charge hadn’t seen a correlation between flytipping and charging for collecting bulky waste.
“What we actually want to encourage people to do is look at how some of the bulky waste that people get rid of through that service could be re-used,” she said.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to go to the tip.
“We will use a percentage of the charges to invest back in the sector, because we think there is a lot of it that could be diverted, and that would be better for the environment anyway.
She added: “We are still one of the few who don’t charge. The new charge won’t cover the cost of what it actually costs us.
“But what other authorities are saying is that it changes the way people [approach bulky waste collections]. So when people ring up for one thing to take, they actually think I have this and this.”
She stressed that people can dispose of items themselves by taking them to a civic tip.