THE national president of the Liberal Democrats joined local campaigners in York today, as they opposed council plans to charge residents for green bin collections.

City of York Council says £580,000 must be cut from its waste services budget over the next two years, and options include fees for collecting garden waste. Opening times at Towthorpe recycling centre may also be changed, and a consultation on the plans ends today.

The council’s Liberal Democrats have launched a petition calling for the plans to be dropped, and the party’s national president, Tim Farron, today joined campaigners in Haxby, saying charges for green bins would cost the council more by deterring recycling and creating higher landfill tax bills.

He said: “This will undermine York’s reputation as one of the UK’s greenest cities and is very bad news for residents, who will have to pay for something they should not have to pay for.

“The council may make some money through charging, but it will cost them four or five times more through extra landfill tax costs and people choosing not to recycle. Residents will be hit twice as their council tax bills rise to meet extra costs. It’s important for taxpayers, the environment and York’s standing that these plans do not go ahead.”

Labour has said Government funding cuts have forced drastic savings, but Mr Farron said: “There would be no need for this if they had accepted a Government grant to freeze council tax - they are foolishly making more cuts than they need to and blaming the Government, and their arguments do not stack up.”

“Waste services and council tax are two of the most important council issues for residents. Labour are getting them both spectacularly wrong.”

Nick Emmerson, prospective Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for York Outer for the next General Election said: “I’d like to know what Labour’s logic and waste strategy is, and how charging for green bin collections would be enforced, because this has not been thought through at all.”

Coun David Levene, cabinet member for environmental services, said: “We are genuinely keen to hear residents' views on the garden waste service, which is why no decision has been made and we've undertaken a full consultation on a wide range of options, some involving charging, some not.

“But we need to be honest with the public that there are no easy decisions. It is simply not possible to deal with the massive Government cuts to York which Mr Farron and his Lib Dem colleagues have repeatedly voted for without any impact on frontline services."