MORE than eight out of ten households with brown bins in some parts of the Capital are opting out of the controversial new “garden tax”.
New figures show the percentage of homes eligible for garden waste collections who have signed up to continue receiving the service when the £25-a-year charge is introduced is as low as 15 or 17 per cent in certain areas.
And the place with the lowest sign-up is City Centre ward, represented by finance convener Alasdair Rankin, who proposed the new charge in the SNP-Labour coalition’s budget approved by the council in February.
Across the city, 46 per cent of households who currently have garden waste collections have registered to pay the new charge, due to come into force in October. That is in line with the declared expectations of the administration.
But figures obtained by Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Lang show a wide variation between wards.
In City Centre, just 15 per cent of those with brown bins have signed up. In Leith Walk the figure is 17 per cent and in Leith ward, represented by SNP council leader Adam McVey, it is 23 per cent.
The highest uptakes are in Colinton/Fairmilehead (64 per cent) and Corstorphine/Murrayfield (58 per cent).
Cllr Lang said: “These new figures show just how unpopular this new garden tax is. The finance convener could not even convince a sixth of his own constituents with brown bins to sign up.
“In the council leader’s area of Leith, over three quarters of people refused to pay the new charge by the deadline.
“This is a tax which nobody voted for. Yet, it is being forced upon the people of Edinburgh by two political parties which made no mention of it in either of their manifestos in last year’s council elections. SNP and Labour councillors need to see sense and get rid of this new tax.”
By the registration deadline last month, a total of 56,028 households had registered to continue receiving garden waste collections out of the 123,804 households across the city which were eligible.
But householders can register for more than one bin – paying £25-a-year for each one – and the total number of bins registered for was 61,220.
Cllr Rankin claimed the low uptake in his ward could be down to the many tenements with communal gardens. And he said there would be further opportunities to sign up.
He said: “There is a very high proportion of people living in tenements. Maybe those with communal gardens have not yet been able to get together on their stair about it.
“It’s a bit like the problem we have seen when it comes to shared repairs and trying to get everyone on a stair to agree but there is an absentee landlord or someone who doesn’t want to co-operate.
“It’s obviously easier in outlying parts of the city where people have their own gardens and don’t have to come to a collective decision.
“But it’s something we will look into and see what we can do to get these numbers up.”
He said the charge was being introduced to help the council pay for priority services. And he said other councils were successfully operating a similar charge.
The council has said it could potentially raise more than £1.3 million from the scheme.