Ian Yuill

Liberal Democrat councillor for Mannofield, Airyhall, Braeside, Broomhill, Garthdee, Kaimhill and Ruthrieston Learn more

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Unpopular Garden Tax set to be in force from 1st September

by Ian Yuill on 5 July, 2019

Residents across Aberdeen have been receiving letters from the council this week telling them the Garden Tax charge of £30 a year to collect garden waste from people’s brown wheelie bins will come into force on 1st September. Ironically, the letters are headed “recycle for Aberdeen”.

SNP, Conservative, “Aberdeen Labour” and Independent councillors all supported introducing the Garden Tax. The SNP councillors wanted the Garden Tax to be even higher at £35 a year!

Only my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I opposed the introduction of the Garden Tax. We believe the Garden Tax penalises people who want to recycle. The council should be encouraging people to recycle – not charging them to recycle.

The Liberal Democrats will do all we can to have the Garden Tax abolished. You can find out more about our campaign to axe the Garden Tax here.

More information about the Garden Tax is available on the council’s website.

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11 Responses

  1. Jonathan Ruszka says:

    I do not object to paying to have my garden waste removed. I am fortunate to have a garden which I enjoy and if it costs £30 per year to uplift my garden waste to be disposed of in an environmentally responsible way – I am happy to pay that. Funding for council services is short after all – that is the elephant in the room (more on that later)…

    What I am dumbfounded by is the ham-fisted way this garden tax has been introduced.

    It discourages recycling and sends a very bad message.

    It cannot fit with the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra – unlike packaging and other types of waste, garden waste cannot be reduced – because gardens grow.

    It does not save any effort as all brown bins will still need to be checked and emptied of food waste.

    It will cause disruption to tenements with shared garden spaces – who pays?

    It will be a huge administrative effort to the Council — at who knows what cost (likely higher than budgeted but unmeasurable).

    Each new sticker to put on the bins will add even more non-recyclable plastic waste to the environment every year.

    We can expect increased fly-tipping.

    So…. Why not use the existing Council Tax collection system and add a garden levy either to homes that have a garden or to all properties above a certain code – most of which will have gardens (and allow exemption on appeal for the few in those bands which do not). This would be much less hassle and far more efficient.

    As mentioned, the elephant in the room is the lack of funding from our rulers in Edinburgh… Over the last decade our general revenue grant has reduced to £57.038m. This is at a similar level to Orkney and Shetland councils while other cities have much higher revenue grants,
    Glasgow £826m
    Edinburgh £324m
    Dundee £217m

    We cannot continue to accept that…

    • Ian Yuill says:

      You make a very good point about Scottish Government funding for Aberdeen City Council.

      To the best of my knowledge, it would not comply with council tax law to add an additional charge to it. I will check though.

  2. Jonathan Ruszka says:

    Thanks Ian. If it is not in compliance, we already have a banded Council Tax system based on property. The most cost effective solution which would not have the downsides of the new garden tax system would be to increase Council Tax for properties over a certain band. That threshold band being selected where almost all properties at or above that have a garden and almost all properties below that do not. Simple and cost effective adding more real money to the pot.

    Funding remains the elephant in the room. How many people in Aberdeen know how little we are allocated by Edinburgh in comparison to other cities?

  3. K Christie says:

    Why do people assume that those living in higher banded properties are in a financial position to pay yet more council tax? Twice now my council tax has been increased but my earnings do not increase at a rate to cover the increase.

  4. Jonathan Ruszka says:

    The problem seems to be funding from our Scottish Government.. If the figures I was provide are correct… this equates to the following in £k per person…

    Dundee: 1.46
    Glasgow: 1.35
    Edinburgh: 0.66
    Aberdeen: 0.28

  5. Annie May says:

    What will this new £30 charge per household in Aberdeen be used towards? I mean everyone is moaning about the cost, fair enough, but what is all of those funds going towards? Certainly not just recycling garden waste? Is it to pay for something else that the council did not appropriately budget for?

  6. Jonathan Ruszka says:

    If we can verify the figures I estimated earlier (copied below), it is clear that our Councillors have a massive challenge to balance the books. Aberdeen City is getting a shockingly bad deal from the Scottish Government. ACC could publicise these figures widely across the people of Aberdeen so that we can all see the true root-cause of the problem and ask the Scottish Government to justify why we get so much less funding per head than other cities. Where can we get the official funding per head figures per Scottish city?

    Dundee: £1,460 per person
    Glasgow: £1,350 per person
    Edinburgh: £660 per person
    Aberdeen: £280 per person

  7. Jonathan Ruszka says:

    Hi Ian – do we have the comparative funding figures per major city by head of population in Scotland? It would be interesting to see if Aberdeen City is under-funded by comparison. If it is, this will help us understand the backdrop and resulting challenge faced by Councillors to balance the books – possibly a root-cause of schemes like the Garden Tax.

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