A Thanet Clinical Waste Protest Group facebook page has been set up – with a petition on the way – following outrage at Thanet council’s decision to charge for the disposal of items including sharps boxes and yellow sacks.
The charge applies to yellow or orange sacks and sharps boxes. The decision to charge, which will hit many people including diabetics who use sharps boxes for disposal, was made in December when new fees and charges were agreed for the 2018/19 financial year as part of the council budget.
In a letter sent to people who use the service, Thanet council says although the service was previously free it has been necessary to ‘revisit’ the issue of charging.
From April 1 the charges will be:
£214.13 per year for providing and collecting clinical sacks
£6.71 per collection for provision and collection of a 11.5 litre sharps container
£8.49 for provision and collection of 22 litre sharps container.
Thanet council also suggests using normal waste collections which has been branded a health hazard by campaigners against the charges.
Claire Clarke,spokesman for the Thanet Clinical Waste Protest Group, said:“ Drug users can dispose of needles safely for free but medical needle users can’t. You don’t stick yourself with needles for fun unless it’s abuse of drugs and to have to pay to dispose safely is obscene.
“The letter states that if waste is not infectious you can use black bins, but the council stated to another person absolutely do not put needles in there. So, they are forcing diabetics and other medical users to pay.
“Black bins are an option for stoma patients but some are not comfortable with the idea of this, or of the seagulls ripping bags open etc. The whole thing is another way for authorities to penalise the vulnerable, ill and disabled in the community.”
Claire added: “A solution would be central safe community bins that we could use.”
Diabetes sufferer Julie Norwood also questioned the charges and the advice to dispose of needles in black bins. She said: “Are Thanet council going to charge drug users as well? Also, if a bin man, gets a stick injury, because of this, who is liable?”
The charges affect people with many medical conditions, including those with ostomy/stoma products, those on blood thinning injections, diabetics and others.
A protest petition has also been created by Birchington diabetes sufferer Jan Kelsea-Simmons.
She said: “I got my bill for disposing of my Sharps bin. I’m diabetic. It’s made me feel that I’m being penalised for having an illness and being responsible for not throwing my needles in the bin.”
The petition is currently waiting to be approved for publication. The link is here
Reacting to the news on The Isle of Thanet News facebook page yesterday (March 7) Angela Bean-Cheney said: “I personally believe this absolutely disgusting. What about people that have terminal illnesses and lifelong conditions. They already have enough financial hardship as it is without paying £200+ on sharp bags.”
Chris Barker added: “This is just going to put the street cleansing staff at risk that empty street bins, the general public from the needles that will just get dumped in the street and also the staff that work at transfer stations.”
What the council says
A Thanet council spokesman said: “Residents who are registered with us for clinical waste collections have been contacted directly about new charges for the service. Councils have been able to charge for this service for a number of years but until now we have not done so.
“However, in the current financial climate, with ever decreasing funding from central government, charging for certain services has had to be revisited. It was agreed by Full Council in December 2017 that we would need to start charging for this service in order to cover the costs of providing it.
“We have kept the charge to a minimum. It’s not a decision that was taken lightly but pressure on budgets means that tough choices have to be made.”