Town hall climbs down in bin row with Scouts
15:23 11 February 2014
A Scout group is celebrating after Newham Council reversed a decision to charge it almost £300 a year for rubbish collections – thanks to help from the Recorder.
The 11th Newham West Scouts has had its wheelie bin emptied by the council free of charge for more than a decade but was recently told this was due to an error and it should be paying £286 a year for the service.
Scout leaders warned that the cost could force the group to close and protested that the group rarely creates a whole bin’s worth of rubbish, only to be told that the cost was non-negotiable.
But last week, following discussions with the Recorder, the council agreed it would continue to provide free waste collections for the group’s base in Gladstone Hall, Evesham Road, while it reviews policy on charging community groups.
Cub Scout leader Sam Starling-Fletcher said she was overwhelmed by the council’s change of heart.
“All the charges have been put on hold and we have our normal domestic bin collection service on a weekly basis, which is great news,” she said. “We just hope it stays that way.”
The Scouts already have to raise about £8,000 a year to pay council tax, rent, gas, electric and water bills.
Mrs Starling-Fletcher said: “We are a charity and so to find £300 a year, on top of what we currently do, is too much.”
The group was given no warning that its wheelie bin would no longer be collected without charge and were only notified after complaining when it was left unemptied in September.
Since then, Scouts and volunteers have been taking rubbish home to dispose of it. Some residents of the street where the group is based have also allowed them to use their bins.
Cllr Ian Corbett, executive member for infrastructure and environment, said: “The 11th West Scouts do excellent work with young people in Newham, including helping to clean up our local environment.
“Thanks to the Recorder raising this issue, I have asked for our policy to be revised. Youth groups who help to clean up Newham should not have to pay for their waste to be collected and so 11th West Scouts will not be charged.”