OPPOSING councillors have criticised plans to introduce charging for garden waste, claiming it will lead to an increase in fly-tipping.

West Berkshire Council (WBC) followed Reading by deciding to charge £50 per green waste bin, a measure which will come into force from September.

The decision was taken due to continued budget pressures and a reduction in funding from central government.

Liberal Democrat members have slammed the idea and say it will be 'a kick in the teeth' for responsible recyclers and families on low incomes.

Councillor Alan Macro (Theale) said: "There will be no discounts for people on low incomes or the disabled and you can't pay in instalments or by direct debit.

"Christmas trees will only be collected from outside homes that have paid the charge. This will again lead to an increase in fly-tipping

"The information released by the council doesn't mention the fact that people can put garden waste in their normal bin.

"Though this is not as good for the environment as composting, it is better than fly-tipping."

"It is unfair for those on low incomes and it is a kick on the teeth for those who care for the environment by sending their garden waste for composting."

Reading introduced the scheme last year, asking residents to register and place a sticker on green bins to show that they have signed up.

Letters have already been distributed to households in Calcot, Tilehurst and Theale, explaining the new scheme and those who register will receive a sticker within 14 days.

Hilary Cole, executive member for waste services, added: "Like all local authorities, West Berkshire has been affected by reductions in central government funding which means that increasingly, we need to charge for some non-statutory services such as garden waste collections.

"We consulted with our residents and it was clear that garden waste collection is valued.

"Therefore, we are giving resident the choice of paying a £50 fee in order to retain the service.”

The final garden waste collection for resident who chose not to register for the scheme will be around late August.