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Gordon Brown is still enthusiastic about ripping off Council Taxpayers by charging them for the amount of refuse in their bins. Pity the technology behind this Stealth Tax doesn't work.

chip for wheely binsWeighing bins tagged with an embedded microchip [see picture] is supposed to persuade people to recycle more of their waste. But, like all the other 'green' scams on offer, it's just another cynical ploy to extract money from the poor old taxpayer.

A trial of waste measurement using bins with chips in South Norfolk, one of the very few areas willing to get involved, produced a lot of resident rage and an increase of 250% in the fly-tipping rate.

The measuring equipment kept breaking down, forcing the binmen either to make running repairs or to switch it off in order to complete their rounds as the refuse lorries wouldn't empty a bin if no weight readings could be taken . Worse, the penny-size chips stopped working because they broke down or they were damaged, and some were removed.

When chips were scanned successfully, some of the data was corrupted or lost before it reached the data-logger in the vehicle's cab.

The measuring equipment was too bulky to be fitted to the light vans used in rural areas.

In buildings with multiple occupancy, the system is intrinsically incapable of providing individual bills for people using communal bins.

The trial, organized by the then Liberal-led council, cost the taxpayer £1,200,000. It was scrapped when the Tories took power in 2007. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is planning 5 similar schemes in 2009, when enabling legislation is in place.

The government is claiming that some homes will pay less for refuse collection if the chip 'n' bin system is adopted on a large scale. A more likely scenario is that most households will end up paying an extra £466 per year because of the hidden costs listed below.

Council Taxpayers will have to stump up . . .

  • The cost of chipping wheely bins
  • The cost of putting scanners in refuse lorries (£25,000 per vehicle)
  • The cost of training staff to use the equipment
  • The cost of maintaining & repairing the equipment in vehicles and replacing or repairing chips in bins
  • The cost of collecting and checking the data from refuse lorries
  • The cost of wages for the extra staff required to run the system and correct blunders
  • The cost of running a helpline for people who have a grievance, real or imagined, against the system
  • The cost of gold-plated public-sector pensions for the extra staff
  • The profit element built in to the scheme to let councils divert cash to the (usually dodgy) projects, which they would prefer to keep concealed from the customers

  20% of wheely bins have a chip  
169 of 350 councils in England no longer
make weekly refuse collections

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