Cork Corporation has found a new target in their fight to impose bin charges in Cork... the old and the disabled. In recent months, the Corpo has renewed its campaign to impose the charges by introducing wheelie bins and a special sticker (supplied by the Corpo) - only when you have both wheelie bin and an 'authorised sticker' will your rubbish be collected. To obtain the 'authorised sticker' you must have a 'paid up' account for the yearly 'bin charge'! Currently this charge stands at £120. In December, the Corpo voted to increase the charge by a whopping 17% to £140 per year!
As if this isn't bad enough, the Corpo has extended its campaign against those least able to fight back, the old and the disabled. A new get tough policy has meant that anyone applying for special grants from the Corpo for home modifications (needed for reasons of illness, infirmity or disability) must first of all prove that they have 'paid all outstanding refuse and service charges owing to Cork Corporation'. A number of elderly people have already received letters informing them that the Corporation cannot proceed with their legitimate claims while they continue to refuse paying the unjust bin charges.
This latest move by Cork Corpo has placed a small but vulnerable section of people in a very difficult position. The need for modifications to bathrooms, stairs and the like are forced on people at very short notice (often as a result of an accident or an illness.). This is not the time when people need threatening letters, but that is exactly what they are getting. Although the Corporation claims to operate 'a wavier system' for those in 'difficult' circumstances, this wavier is at the discretion of the Corpo and appears in any case to be only partial in nature. In effect the Corpo are saying TOUGH LUCK!
Householders Against the Service Charges are organising the fight against the bin charges in Cork. Every Monday night, at 7.30 pm, rubbish is being dumped outside Cork's City Hall to remind councillors and the City Manager that this campaign is here to stay. If you want to get involved, come along on Monday nights or contact HASC (see address elsewhere in this paper.)
The campaign continues to go grow in membership and determination. Still over 50% of people haven't paid one or both installments of this year's charge. Meanwhile bins are still being collected and with an election on the horizon court action seems unlikely.
Over 150 people turned out to protest on a very wet night on Tuesday 21st of November - the council cancelled this estimates meeting and then another before finally accepting next years estimates (with the charges in) on December 5th by 21 to 7. As they emerged from their private car park under the town hall an angry crowd left them in little doubt about how their electorate viewed their arrogance.
The charges are clearly unpopular and uncollectable and as news of the campaign spreads non-payment is likely to grow.
Conor Mc Loughlin
(Watsons co-ordinator in the Campaign Against Service Charges in Dun Laoghaire - personal capacity - firstname.lastname@example.org)