A scout leader is fed up with being charged to dump domestic waste at his local tip after a heavily-criticised policy is hitting ordinary drivers hard.
Vince Kingsley, a 49-year-old lecturer from Whitmore Road, West Harrow, headed to the Waste, Refuse and Recycling Centre in Forward Drive, Wealdstone, last week to dispose of some old mattresses when the staff informed him that he would have to pay up as he was driving a van meaning it is classified as ‘commercial waste’.
He said: “The reason I drive a Nissan Navara is because I am a leader with the 17th Harrow Scouts group, so it is handy to carry all the equipment and tents around.
“For them to say I was a commercial driver beggars belief. It’s a real pain in the rear.”
Previously, van drivers have been allowed three free tips per year, however that stopped in February when the then-ruling Conservative administration at Harrow Council introduced charges for all non-standard vehicles.
This was done after staff at the tip reported that they were being repeatedly threatened by van drivers who refused to pay after their third trip of the year, and staff were even equipped with lapel cameras so incidents would be recorded so the footage could be used for potential prosecutions.
However for the majority of law-abiding, ordinary drivers like Mr Kingsley who happen to drive a van, the system is hitting them hard with waste for van drivers costing them £220 a ton.
He added: “If I bring something to the tip in my vehicle, it’s commercial waste, but if I bring the exact same thing in my wife’s Peugeot, then there’s no problem and it’s free.
“How does that make sense? It is madness, and if you look around the estates, the council must be spending a fortune on collecting mattresses and old TVs that have been dumped in the streets, and it is charges like this that make people do that.”
Since the fees were introduced, Labour – which tried to stop the fee charges being introduced – have come to power at Harrow Council, and now can revert the charges back to the old system.
Councillor Varsha Parmar, Labour’s cabinet member for environment, crime and community safety, said: “We opposed the decision to introduce charges at Forward Drive from the start, and tried to stop the changes.
“The Tory administration never listened to anyone and always dismissed anyone with opposing views, as a result ended up with policies like this; introducing charges was never going to solve the original problem of staff being threatened, and instead have created further problems such as increased fly-tipping.
“After listening to residents complaints and concerns the Labour Group have started a review into the policy, which we will report back on in September.”
But opposition councillors are standing by the decision to implement charges at the tip.
Leader of the Conservatives Susan Hall said: “I do sympathise with the small number of residents who are affected by this policy change, but Councillor Parmar is wrong to say we didn’t listen to anyone – we listened to the staff who said they’d rather quit than carry on as things were after people threatened to come back with guns or to kill them.
“If David Perry is going to insist on being a part time Leader, he’s going to need cabinet members who are more up to the task.”