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Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

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  • Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

    Following a public consultation North East Lincolnshire Council's cabinet agreed to introduce charge for garden waste collection which has, up until now, been a free service.

    There were only two options offered to residents which were either to state a preference to pay for the service (proposed £40 per annum) or to scrap it all together.

    It would appear that from a recent Supreme Court case ruling on the lawfulness of public consultations, that a simple offer of take it or leave it does not constitute a lawful public consultation. The ruling is clear that for this kind of consultation to be lawful, there must be offered alternative ways from which residents could choose to make savings or plug gaps in budgets.

    The case surrounded a consultation about the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS), though the judgment impacts on how all local authority public consultations should be conducted.

    It was held that the consultation did not offer any other ways to deal with the government cuts, such as raising council tax, cutting money to other council services, or using capital funds. (Those taking part in the consultation didnít know there were potential alternatives to the system they wanted to use and was just presented as if they had no choice).

    North East Lincolnshire Council offered two options which were take it or leave it. It could have suggested for example making savings by sharing a Chief Executive with a neighbouring authority, using some reserves, reducing Councillor allowances/Councillors etc., etc.

    The authority is aware of the Supreme case and has proceeded regardless, offering no alternative for making savings in its public consultation. It is questioned if this is because it has taken a calculated risk that the odds of someone bringing a case against them is unlikely on the basis that the cost of court proceedings is far too prohibitive for the average ratepayer.

  • #2
    Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

    Our LA (Durham County Council) has done the same ... either we pay for our garden waste disposal or it doesn't get taken away
    http://www.durham.gov.uk/gardenwaste
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    • #3
      Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

      Hi outlaw

      in relation to how NELC abuse this part of the system

      https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque..._governance_ar

      Long story short, 77 responses, allowed them to substantial increase there powers. ( 70,000 households, 160 k+ residence )


      5. does this qualify still as a public consultation were approximately
      0.051% of the public have actually been consulted.

      North East Lincolnshire Council is satisfied that it has
      consulted appropriately on the adoption of a new governance model by the
      Council.
      crazy council ( as in local council,NELC ) as a member of the public, i don't get mad, i get even

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

        Was there only 77 responses? if so the other thousands who could not be bothered are to blame?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

          they hid it walesman.

          out of the 77 respondents, 55 were from ward councilors or there partners, the other 20 were from the working group.

          Total number of independent respondance 2
          crazy council ( as in local council,NELC ) as a member of the public, i don't get mad, i get even

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

            Originally posted by Kati View Post
            Our LA (Durham County Council) has done the same ... either we pay for our garden waste disposal or it doesn't get taken away
            http://www.durham.gov.uk/gardenwaste
            Did you see this:

            Review of the Garden Waste Collection Service (Cabinet 19th March 2014)

            There's no evidence I can see in the report that suggests it was a consultation offering alternative money saving schemes. More like a survey.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

              Ho [MENTION=8136]outlawlgo[/MENTION]

              Am trying to unpick them from the court angle. keep your eyes on the local magistrates court and NTS ( dont mention his name ) i found what i was looking for.
              crazy council ( as in local council,NELC ) as a member of the public, i don't get mad, i get even

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

                Originally posted by wales01man View Post
                Was there only 77 responses? if so the other thousands who could not be bothered are to blame?

                Originally posted by Crazy council View Post
                they hid it walesman.

                out of the 77 respondents, 55 were from ward councilors or there partners, the other 20 were from the working group.

                Total number of independent respondance 2
                Can't blame them for not responding if they don't know about it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

                  Besides the consultation not offering any alternative options for how the savings could be made, the forecast of how much it would cost to provide the service to determine the charge for each customer appeared to conceal a potential surplus of income.

                  NELC tried and failed to implement a charge for garden waste in 2011/12. The data used to present its 'Business case' to cabinet is at odds with the data used for presenting its current Business case, and strongly suggests it plucks figures out of the air.

                  For its 2011/12 proposals it calculated that it could deliver the service at an annual cost to each customer of £25, on the assumption that 11,000 residents would continue to take-up the service.

                  For some reason (and there has been no inflation to speak of) the cost of providing the service was £275k annually, but based on the figures presented to cabinet recently that has skyrocketed to £672k (16,800 customers taking up the offer of £40 per annum).

                  Making the assumption that no surplus was factored in to its 2011/12 Business case (£275,000) then an annual profit of £397,000 is likely to be made from its current proposal. Throw in that NELC admitted that 16,800 properties was estimated as a pessimistic take up, then the potential profit is even greater when the true number of people are known who opt-in for having their garden waste disposed of.

                  Who knows, there could be over half a million pounds a year profit made on this public service and that's not accounting for money they get paid for the recyclable waste.

                  In 2013 the High Court ruled against Barnet Borough Council budgeting for a surplus of income from residential parking schemes to be used to meet other transport expenditure; Attfield, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Barnet [2013] EWHC 2089 (Admin) (22 July 2013). There's no logical reason why a High Court judge wouldn't consider profiteering through waste collections to be unlawful either.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

                    There has been a change to the amount NELC has pitched its charge for ĎCustomersí opting into the scheme that allows them to have their garden waste collected. Rather than the £40 charge it initially stated, it has reduced that by 25% and settled on £30.

                    The recent articles of propaganda which the Grimsby Telegraph has been happy to print in its publication caused reason for concern. For example, on February 11, 2015, the elected member, responsible for implementing the charge, who incidentally claims £20k+ annually from the taxpayer for representing their interests, said:

                    "
                    We know people value the green waste collection service but in the face of government imposed cuts of £76 million it's a service we can no longer afford to subsidise.

                    Firstly, he is making the mistake that it is somehow the Council which is subsidising this service, not the Council Tax payer who doesn't use a brown bin but nevertheless pays for it by paying the same amount of council tax as his neighbour who does have his garden waste disposed of.

                    Secondly, he conveniently forgets that public services are, and have always been funded this way, which leaves him the opportunity to pick and choose which services to promote that can no longer be subsidised by residents who don't use those facilities.

                    On May 13, 2015, the same Councillor stated:

                    "
                    We have to remember why we are in this position, with £47 million worth of cuts in our budget and we have to look at our agenda and protect the vulnerable.

                    Asking people for £30 to collect their garden waste is protecting vulnerable people
                    .

                    So he uses the government cuts to justify the charge and reinforces this by failing to declare any alternative government schemes or incentives that would off-set the funding cuts and therefore implying that introducing the charge was the only way that it could continue to protect vulnerable people.

                    For example, the elected member who is portfolio holder for environment, leaves out the fact that business rates, which used to be collected and paid to central government are now kept by the council. It fails also to highlight the 'New Homes Bonus' which is paid as incentive for the council to grant planning permission to build houses on any available square inch of land, nor the bonus paid on top of that if the permission is for 'Affordable Homes'.

                    According to NELC's figures it will, by 2018/19, have received £13.5 million from the government in respect of New Homes Bonus (2013/14 to 2018/19). On top of that the government has introduced legislation that gives local authorities discretion over the amount of discount it allows people who own unoccupied or uninhabitable properties and allowed them in the case of long term empty houses to charge the property owner 150% Council Tax.

                    That is hardly what you could call representing the electorate and giving them value for money.

                    If the above isnít enough to outrage the electorate, the next quote (the same article) where he relies on the unlawful and rigged public consultation should be the last straw:

                    "It costs us £500,000 to provide this service. We went out to consultation and 52 per cent of those who responded were in favour of charging.

                    The opposition (Conservative Council leader) made a half-hearted attempt to oppose the charge, asserting that the consultation was unfair and the attempts to hide waste in in domestic waste bins and the increase in fly-tipping etc. would far outway the income generated. However, the Ace which would be to use the Supreme Court ruling on unlawful public consultations was apparently never played.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

                      How to run a local authority with no regard for the law whatsoever and do so with impunity.

                      Initially it was the unlawful consultation and a very dodgy 'business case', that suggested the council would profit from its 'customers'. Now it openly admits it intends to unlawfully use those profits to fund other services.

                      It is reported today in the Grimsby Telegraph that the number of people who have already opted into the garden waste collection scheme has exceeded the council's estimate upon which it based its 'business case'. In other words, North East Lincolnshire Council is profiting from its residents by charging them in excess of the council's cost for delivering the service.

                      Quote from the Councillor who is the cabinet member for environment:

                      "At this stage, it looks like take-up will far exceed our estimates, which is great news and means the savings can be redirected to other vital services for our communities.

                      Perhaps this Councillor should be advised that if the council is to avoid legal challenge then he should be warning its legal department that any estimates which are exceeded need to be met with a reduction in the collection charge.

                      The issue was raised in post #9 of this thread in that the High Court ruled against a local authority budgeting for a surplus of income from one scheme to be used to meet other expenditure in R (Attfield) v London Borough of Barnet [2013] EWHC 2089 (Admin).

                      You wonder what the council's legal services are doing when the authority is blatantly breaking the law. The council's Director of Law (Monitoring Officer) who is responsible for ensuring that the council's actions are lawful, should, if there was any accountability be brought to book over this.
                      Last edited by outlawlgo; 28th May 2015, 08:54:AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

                        @outlawlgo

                        do you know how they got the powers to do this.. a consultation of all residents ( yes, i never heard it eather, this gave the legal team ( my targets ) total power, and handed decisions like this to the minion WC . heres the numbers

                        Approx
                        160,000 residents ( 70,000 housholds )
                        42 Ward councilors
                        15 Affected council officers
                        22 working group from east marsh

                        The consultation was to give massive amounts of unaccounted for power to 4 ward councilors, and the legal team.

                        How many people voted, and they council said it was a valid response 75, i will dig out the foi responce for you later.

                        https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...#comment-15273
                        Last edited by Crazy council; 28th May 2015, 09:37:AM.
                        crazy council ( as in local council,NELC ) as a member of the public, i don't get mad, i get even

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

                          The latest:

                          NELC residents learn today that the normal rubbish collections are going to be cut back, but it's also revealed that whilst the service has been weekly, the clowncil received annually an £0.8 million grant from the government, but still put up council tax and introduced a charge for garden waste collections on the back of an unlawful public consultation.

                          The Councillor, serving as cabinet member for environment, said:

                          "
                          We have already introduced the new garden waste collection service and the public played a big part in our decision to introduce charges. And I'm delighted that so many people have backed the new scheme and opted-in.

                          This man is deluded and taking money from the council tax payer under false pretences and should be removed along with his expenses.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

                            The leader of the council has been alerted to the matters raised in this thread.

                            From: oultlawla
                            To: Leader of Council
                            Sent: June 11, 2015
                            Subject: Unlawful Public Consultation to Introduce Charge for Garden waste Collections and profiting from said collections thereafter

                            Dear Cllr Oxby

                            Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for garden waste collections and profiting from said collections thereafter


                            I am aware that North East Lincolnshire Council consulted members of the public in the matter of introducing a charge for garden waste collections. I'm also aware that the consultation was unlawful and believe that the council knows this too.

                            The Supreme Court ruled on the lawfulness of public consultations, and it was held that a simple offer of take it or leave it does not constitute a lawful public consultation. The ruling is clear that for this kind of consultation to be lawful, there must be offered alternative ways from which residents could choose to make savings. The case reference, which I'm sure you will wish to refer to the authority's Monitoring Officer is Moseley, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Haringey [2014].

                            There is a more pressing matter however, concerning NELC profiting from its residents by charging them in excess of the council's cost for delivering the garden waste service. A statement published in the Grimsby Telegraph on 28 May 2015 quoted from the cabinet member for environment:

                            "At this stage, it looks like take-up will far exceed our estimates, which is great news and means the savings can be redirected to other vital services for our communities."

                            In this regard, I think you will also want to refer the relevant judgment to the NELC's Monitoring Officer. The High Court ruled against a local authority budgeting for a surplus of income from one scheme to be used to meet other expenditure in (R (Attfield) v London Borough of Barnet). This judgment is very relevant to the admission that a surplus will be made from garden waste collections which will be channelled to fund other areas of council services.

                            To get the ball rolling I'm asking that a proper breakdown is provided setting out the council's income and expenditure to determine how much the £30 annual charge may be reduced so that the authority may lawfully claim that it does not profit from its residents for providing garden waste collections.

                            On establishing a revised charge the sum should be implemented without delay and the income/expenditure kept under constant review so that any increase in take up of the service is reflected in the subscription fee.

                            I hope NELC cooperates as I will have no hesitation in reporting any unlawful profiting to the police as a matter of fraud.

                            Your Sincerely

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for Garden Waste Collection

                              There couldn't have been better timing than for the Grimsby Telegraph to announce today that the Councillor, who just happened to make the declaration in the GT (28 May 2015) that the unlawful profit from garden waste collections "can be redirected to other vital services for our communities" is behind proposals that will redirect public monies to fund another project (the 'Phone 'n' Ride service').

                              What a coincidence!

                              Funding for an extra vehicle and the concessions for customers who are eligible for free travel, which will enhance the council-subsidised bus service, will likely be rubber stamped at the next Portfolio meeting on June 23. Whether funding from the garden waste profit making enterprise was specifically intended to fund the 'Phone 'n' Ride service' is of no real consequence as however you look at it, the profits will in one way or another 'be redirected to other vital services for our communities'

                              This of course raises another important issue regarding what services the council sees as being priority. Garden waste collections have been denied for those who are unwilling or unable to pay the additional £30 annual subscription.

                              For those people who have neither the means to pay nor facilities to dispose of their garden waste, the collection which they are now denied must to them be considered a vital service. You have to ask what decision process was entered into in determining that funding another bus and concessionary service was more important than providing garden waste collections for the vulnerable?

                              The biggest misuse of public money must be that wasted on councillor expenses for pointless meetings that achieve nothing but shifting funding without justification to which ever project the council views at the time as being a priority vital service.
                              Last edited by outlawlgo; 17th June 2015, 12:17:PM.

                              Comment

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