From December 2, residents will be charged between £41 and £205 per tonne of construction and demolition waste at Richmond’s Household Waste and Recycling Centre in Kew.
The council explained the move came after a review of its waste disposal strategy, and was merely mirroring similar charges in other boroughs – adding that central government grant cuts meant the council had to look for new ways balance its books.
But former deputy council leader and Hampton North councillor, Geoffrey Samuel, said the council “does not have to charge residents” for the disposal.
He said: “The council’s financial position has improved drastically – in the last 12 months they got £7 million from the Government to deal with issues like mental health.
“All councils are short of money – we looked at whether it was a good idea to charge residents fly-tipping rates and found that this is a bad idea, we have so much open space so we will be worse off than most – people can easily fly-tip in the borough.”
DIY waste is considered anything that was once fixed to a property or outside space, i.e.: not something that would normally move with you when you leave a property.
This could include construction and demolition materials such as stone, rubble, clay, concrete, bricks, blocks, sand, tiles, paving slabs, and ceramic bathroom suites.
The conservative councillor also highlighted the risks the new charge might add for residents living in other parts of the borough.
“Reputable builders will pay the charge but cowboy builders will use places like the Sainsbury’s car park in Hampton North because it is unsupervised at night,” he added.
“The knock-on effect for neighbouring councils won’t be good because residents in Richmond will want to dispose of waste free of charge.
“Currently – residents can dispose in Hounslow for free however – once these charges arrive, cars will be stopped, weighed, checked and then charged which will bring complete chaos for staff at these sites.”
Councillor Samuel has been joined by fellow Tory councillor, Kate Howard, in backing a petition to ‘Stop exhorbitant new DIY Waste disposal charges at Townmead Centre’, which had 13 signatures at the time of publishing.
However, council leader Gareth Roberts insisted that the cut to the budget allowing residents to dispose of DIY waste without charge was actually introduced by the previous Conservative council in its 2017/18 budget.
He said: “‘The decision to cut the budget which allowed residents to dispose of DIY materials at Townmead was actually taken by the Tories in their 2017 to 2018 budget and it was always their plan to bring in charges after the 2018 local elections.
“For them to start complaining now is just another example of them refusing to be honest with residents when it comes to local finances.”