Craven householders are to be charged for the removal of garden waste.

From April, Craven District Council is set to charge £24 per year for the collection of brown, garden waste bins.

Policy committee members were divided over the charge which it was said was needed to create funds for the council.

Leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton (Cons) criticised members of the opposition for being against the move and pointed out the council faced tough economic decisions.

“It is easy to forget that this authority needs to make savings, but the reality is we need to make savings and introduce additional revenue schemes,” he said.

Councillors were told that the collection of garden waste had originally been introduced as a way for the council to hit its government recycling targets.

Around 55 per cent of households in Craven had garden waste bins, although the cost was spread across all council tax payers.

Coun Simon Myers said it was not fair that the poorest residents with no gardens were subsidising those with gardens.

He added that when the council was having to cut council tax benefits it was not right that a free garden waste service was still being offered.

“If we are going to impose a cost on those who can afford it, let it be this one,” he said.

“To expect the poorest people to subsidise the richest is probably a non-brainer.”

But Coun Paul English (Lib Dem) said it was not just the rich who had gardens and there were plenty of poor people who made use of the garden waste collections.

He pointed out that although he had no children, he was happy to pay towards education and that it was a slippery slope to take away the service.

“It will reduce the amount of waste being recycled and what will people do with their garden waste? Dump it in fields?”

He said that the council had been a victim of its own success and added that the council always scored well amongst residents for its waste collection service.

“It is something that we do well and we should continue to do it.”

Coun Mark Wheeler (Lib Dem) compared the council to a drug dealer and said that it was all about making income.

“We’re all hooked on recycling and now we are going to get charged for it,” he said.

Coun Robert Heseltine (Ind), who had attended a meeting of Draughton Parish Council, said councillors there had been opposed to charging.

But Coun John Kerwin-Davey (Ind) said he supported a charge and suggested it should be put at £30 and not £24.

And Coun Stephen Place (Ind) said it was always intended to charge for the service and that it was not a statutory function of the council.

He called for people to return to composting and pointed out it was wrong to send wagons to collect garden waste when it should be recycled on site.

“It is nonsense that allotment holders put stuff in brown bins to remove from site.”

And he added: “I have a backyard and a window box, why should I subsidise someone with half an acre of ground who is happily putting pruned roses into a brown bins?”