Dec 08 2015

Harrow Council’s Garden Tax Scheme – The Unraveling Begins

harrow_council_brokenThe plans for Harrow Council’s Garden tax scheme have finally landed on the desk of a council officer with a bit of common sense, and a new scheme has been quietly announced on the council’s web site in what looks like an attempt to salvage the scheme (and, perhaps, the reputations of the half-wits voted in by Harrow’s fin residents, who signed off on the scheme).

Yes, it’ll still cost £75 a year for a full year collection, but now, the council – realising that the original scheme was, perhaps, fatally flawed – have come up with something else: either collections for six-months of the year throughout the summer, or a ‘summer service’ at £40 covering the period between May and October. Costs for households that receive Council Tax Support are £25 for the year, or £15 for the ‘summer service.’ There’s also mention of a ‘flexi-service’ where you can choose which months you want a collection (finishing in either October for the flexi-summer-service or March for the flex-annual service). A summary of the costs is here; a PDF with the flexi-service costs is here.

Cancel part way through, and you’ll get a refund, they say, for any full months unused.

The council has produced a FAQ page, drippily peppered with blaming others for the charges (“adult social services and housing”, “cuts from Government”, “vulnerable people” and so on). Let’s not forget that this is the council spending a fortune (over £163,000 per year) on a surplus-to-requirements Chief Executive, allowing it’s employees to spend their time watching animal porn and we also hear rumours of a jolly old trip off abroad for a ‘conference’ sometime soon as well.

January 2016 will, of course, be crunch time for this scheme, when we see how many people sign up for it, and then, whether it’s commercially viable. From what we’ve seen so far from the Labour councillor in charge of the scheme, it’s clear the business plan doesn’t exist, let alone stack up. And the council refuses to answer any questions from iharrow over what the true cost or profit and loss of the scheme will be, but then again, it’s only residents’ money.

Note to Dave: You can’t polish a turd, mate.

Thanks to L for the tip off.

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  1. Susan Hall

    There is no business plan, well one that they will share with us the opposition anyway. Will they pay staff to sit around and just wait and see if people want flexible collections,or will those poor people lose their jobs, will the vehicles remain parked up for 6 months of the year wasting taxpayers money and negating any savings they are allegedly making. What a complete and utter mess and we have been warning them of this folly for the past year. Its a disaster and us tax payers are, as always, the ones footing the bill.

    1. red mirror

      problem is sue dossing on the council is of olympic proportions i know i worked there my immediate boss consumed doughnuts cakes and coffee to a daily brobdingnagian level whilst seated the whole time in the van and being driven from hiding place to hiding place fully condoned by the operations manager who also with said team leader indulged in hour long plus dainty excursions to the cafe in bhs to discuss the aerodynamics of harrows bins and the quality of fondant and other such pressing matters ALL UNDER YOUR WATCH BUT OF COURSE YOU KNOW THAT AND WHO FOOTED THE BILL THE TAX PAYERS perhaps you were too busy insulting x factor contestants to notice eh.

  2. mike mcfadden

    Ho ho ho Christmas is coming and its the season of goodwill to all men even Dave and his garden gnomes who just don’t seem to be able to get anything right. Ah, you may say its not his fault because many of his goons don’t understand basic English or say they need it in many languages to understand.! When will Dave and his groupies realise plain English only is the best way forward in England.
    Can I take you back to the food Caddy nonsense where at great expense to the “Tax-Payers” of Harrow we were given 2 plastic caddies one big one small that didn’t stand very well and were blown over very easily that really were not much good at all. I’m of the opinion these were to replace the last fiasco of separate waste collection in small plastic bins that only ended up as trash containers in peoples garages.

    However, Dave tries but it seems not well enough. I wonder if he could improve if it cost him money personally?

    The point being my little Caddy had note from Harrow attached that took quiet some time to decipher. It read. “Your Brown bin is collected every two weeks-please only put it out with your Blue bin” So in essence and after solving the riddle its back to collecting your food waste once a fortnight in you garden waste bin that they want to charge an extra £75. So get ready for further massive dumping all around Harrow caused by Dave’s gobbledegook. No point having it written in loads of languages because that will just create greater get out clauses for the great unwashed. “shame on you Dave”

  3. red mirror

    wow more inefficiency lies and bungling buffoonery from harrow council i love the way these people in charge dont have the BALLS to tell the truth about council tax being unlawful and how much goes to off shore accounts and arms dealing firms to produce weapons to kill innocents harrow council is a CORPORATION which means it is dead and doesn’t give a fxxk about you people time for talk is over arses have to depart from sofas and go en masse to the civic and call these cowardly beasteality watching freaks to order they are servants ok YOU pay their wages make them accountable come on people PUT UP OR SHUT UP I AM SORRY BUT THIS IS STILL ENGLAND AND THE MAGNA CARTA IS VERY MUCH STILL APPLICABLE GOD BLESS THANKS PAUL.

  4. Hectors House (@NegligentRail)

    Ok mighty moan coming up,firstly the “new ideas” are already well worn with other Councils in fact I tweeted that they should think about March till Oct collections as I saw it at another Council.

    Now the moan,since the inception of the brown bin scheme which stumbled into operation like a new born lamb on a frozen lake,a total of 5 collections have supposed to of taken place at my Mothers, out of those the brown bin has been missed 4 times I kid you not on the occasion it was collected all the bins were dumped on the pavement blocking it completely so parents walking their Children to school had to stop & move them out of the way (yes complaints were forthcoming to residents from people about blocking the pavement with their bins).

    When I caught up & asked the guys why the bins were not returned as per agreement with refuse,an agency worker with a fag hanging out of his mouth made a comment to which he was told to shut up by the supervisor (a crew of 4 is not cutting back)I was told all agency they will come back & do it.

    So emails to refuse,they came once,in fact they promised to come another time & did not turn up,but when the Councillor contacted them they were here like grease lightening complaint via MyHarrow not a word back,query via missed bin to why it was missed no reply.

    Throw into the mix that our street bin was not emptied for 5 days & certain residents dump their rubbish there rather than sort it out correctly makes this part of Headstone Lane a sh*t pit in the making.

    I would point out it was not just my Mothers bin that was missed but other residents as well where she lives.

  5. Linda Robinson

    Don’t expect an end to this farce any time soon. These people are nowhere near humble enough to admit that they’ve just compounded their witlessness by cobbling together some fresh outpourings which are no more workable than the original plot. It’s true that the newly published scale of charges seems less alarming and more flexible than the overwhelmingly unpopular £75 take-it-or-leave it fixed fee. However, it doesn’t take much to see through the sticking plaster to the horrendous boil that’s going to burst.

    It’s far too soon for householders to make any firm decisions yet on what to do about next year’s garden waste. Wait for many more rethinks and tweakings before any charging scheme is actually implemented. If they think that many people are going to be mollified by the opportunity to pay £40 for a service that will come to an end just as their garden is filling up with leaves, they’ll probably have to think again. Those that do are mostly those who would have paid £75 in the first place, so there’s a dent in the projected income straight away.

    But that’s not the worst of it. Even if the staff behind telephones and computers screens could cope efficiently (which they couldn’t) with all the payments and queries from residents wanting to be clear which weeks are covered by their £13.33 for an extra bin collection, or trying to find out if their disused wheelie will ever be taken away (which it probably won’t), it will be impossible to translate this into seamless procedures for bin men on their rounds. Can you imagine… some bins being collected one week, different one’s next time because some people have paid up or asked for a refund in the meantime, some have paid for additional bins for certain periods only, some are sharing with neighbours. No way are the operatives going to be able to get it right. Bins you’ve paid for won’t be emptied while others that no one’s paid for will be emptied anyway. There will be endless mistakes, complaints and incidents.

    If you haven’t seen this month’s Harrow People yet (www.harrow.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/7656/harrow_people_december_2015), you won’t have seen that the story printed there is not quite the same as the one on the website, and the one on the Christmas bin-hangers is different again. Apparently, “the day on which your garden waste is collected may not be the same as your current bin day” now. The hapless recycling girls who tried so hard to explain it to us all in the last round of roadshows have now got to do it all over again in the New Year with a new set of rules.

    None of it will work. There will be endless confusion and errors. People will think of all manner of ruses to get rid of their garden waste without paying much, while the council’s woeful communication systems will just melt under the pressure and the unions will be up in arms about workers’ constantly shifting work practices. Someone suggested today that they’d bag up their garden waste, put it in the street and then report that someone else has fly tipped it there so that the council will collect it. If you can find a neighbour who gets Council Tax Support, perhaps they’d order you an additional bin service for £6.25 for most of the summer. Offering the bin man an occasional fiver when your bin’s full will probably do the trick for a lot of people.

    My advice is don’t do anything until at least March. By then the whole thing will have changed again. Perhaps the service will be scrapped altogether. Or perhaps it will revert to the way it used to be. It would have been better if they’d listened more carefully before wasting everyone’s money and time on more blind, arrogant trumpet-blowing, but I’m afraid there’s no chance of that happening with this particular administration.

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