I welcome the opportunity to put the case for all garden owners related to the council’s intention to impose what amounts to a garden tax on our gardens and their management. Firstly let me say, those of us who choose a property with a garden do so because we want that garden and we enjoy gardening. It is an expensive but satisfying hobby, hard, physical work and subject to a lot of environmental and ecological influences. There are almost as many micro-climates in Scarborough as there are roads, and it can take years of developmental work to finally discover how your particular garden can, or cannot grow. The quantity and type of refuse varies with each and every garden.
My next door neighbour has a small council garden. It is plain but tidy. However, decades ago the council decided that sycamore trees were the answer and so I have nearly a dozen of them lining the side of my property and overhanging my garden.
They are immensely tall and growing ever taller, and it is clear that a fundamental error of judgement had been made, and never rectified since; I have to live with them today, and frankly they are appalling neighbours.
In the autumn they create an enormous amount of work clearing garden refuse because the leaves fall into my garden, blow into piles against my walls and gate, and smother my flower beds and any growing winter plants. The leaves have to be delicately swept up and removed. They fill the gulley around my flat and block all the drains which have to be constantly monitored and cleared throughout the autumn and into winter. A small amount can be turned into compost; the rest go into filling the bin for the final two months of the garden bin collecting season. However, in this area of high pollution, the trees do serve an important environmental purpose.
I would reckon that my garden bin needs emptying from March-end to November a total of nine times, because I am a dedicated recycler and composter. For the same reasons, my green bin needs emptying at most, only nine times a year, my blue recycling bin once a month on average. So by and large, frankly, the council does not spend much time emptying my statutory bins so why do they need to charge me extra for my own and their garden refuse? Will I get a discount on my council tax?
The point that I am making is all our gardens are totally dependent on our surroundings. All our gardens are subject to external environments and influences beyond our control which we have to live with and manage. The alternative is for us all to concrete over our patches and use them as carparks.
As council gardens are reduced so also is the colour and variety they once provided. Every day, all year round, the individual gardeners provide people with an alternative source of colour and beauty, even if sometimes it is reduced to a window-box or two and some hanging baskets.
We all paid £20 for our bins, fair enough. The net savings to council appear to have been costed at £100,000. A comment regarding non-gardeners subsidising us is both spurious and offensive, particularly when seen in the overall context of the town’s total colourful presentation.
The tax is unfair and it is unworkable. Council, please think again before you do this.