December 2, 2014 2:39 PM

Lib Dem campaigners in Teignbridge are finding overwhelming support for their campaign against the Tory Garden Tax.

Thousands of residents across Teignbridge are backing calls for a new council 'garden tax' to be scrapped.

The council plans to charge residents £35 a year to take away their garden waste, grass and hedge clippings, in the green wheelie bin. And while Teignbridge expects a cash bonanza of around £650,000 from the tax next year, its recycling rates are falling and more waste is being sent to landfill, the council's own figures show.

Families that don't or can't pay the new garden tax will be left to make their own arrangements to take garden waste to the local tips in Newton Abbot or Exeter. 'Spy in the Cab' technology will tell council bin collectors which households have paid the £35 garden tax for their green bins to be emptied.

More than 5,000 local people across Teignbridge have signed a petition run by the Liberal Democrats calling for the 'garden tax' to be scrapped before it comes into effect next July. In Ashburton, local councillor and former Mayor John Nutley, has collected over 680 signatures for the garden tax petition.

"Our garden tax petition has been hugely popular and is still running," said John "Residents have been signing on-line, at their door when we are out visiting, and also posting petitions back to us using their own stamps. In 25 years of local community campaigning, I've rarely seen such a positive response to a petition."

Teignbridge Council has collected garden waste as part of the service paid by the Council Tax ever since the green wheelie bins were introduced in the 1980s as part of the refuse service. Cllr Alan Connett, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Teignbridge, said residents felt the new £35 charge was simply another way of taxing householders for a service they already paid for. "The Conservatives who run Teignbridge had their heads turned when they spoke to another Tory council in Nottinghamshire which generates a significant extra income from garden waste charges. Just because you can charge, doesn't mean it is right to charge. People without cars and older people will all be affected by what is really a stealth tax from Teignbridge".

"They will either have to pay up or take their garden waste to the tip and in Newton Abbot that will certainly add to the queues on Brunel Road. And it's not as though Teignbridge is tight for cash either. In fact, they had nearly £1.6 MILLION spare this year in the day-to-day revenue fund which they have put into various building projects and schemes."

Teignbridge Council says it expects to generate about £658,000 for the council's piggy bank from the new garden tax with about 22,500 homes joining the money-raising scheme.

In September, the council reported its recycling rate fell 2.8% in 2013-14 and is achieving only 54% against its own target of 60%. At the same time residual 'landfill' waste from the black bins is rising and is a now a "serious concern" councillors have been told.