A furious deli owner has accused council bosses of profiteering at the expense of local businesses by hiking up bin collection charges.
Steven Wilson (44) has been running Taste Deli and Cafe on Linlithgow’s High Street since 2007.
He claims the 110 per cent increase in the trade waste charges being levied by West Lothian Council are unnaceptable and place an unduly heavy burden on traders who are already struggling.
The business was being charged £929.27 to have its 1100-litre refuse bin uplifted twice weekly until this month.
But now Mr Wilson has received a demand from the council’s finance and estate services for the forthcoming year’s refuse collection of £1957.28.
He immediately contacted the council, who confirmed no mistake had been made and the charges stood to be paid.
Mr Wilson told the Journal & Gazette: “This sort of increase will invariably hurt my business.
“I am going to have to look at where I can make cuts but, to be frank, we’ve made as many as we felt were reasonable without affecting staffing levels. That may have to change.
“I can’t simply put up my prices to cover the increase or I’d be charging £5 for a cup of coffee.
“The council seems to think that we are an easy touch. After all, we have rubbish as a result of the type of business we are and, accordingly, it needs to be uplifted and disposed of.
“The council has us over a barrel. If we don’t want to fall foul of health and safety and similar regulations then we have to get the bins emptied.”
Mr Wilson’s business supplies specialist delicatessen foods which are not available in local supermarkets.
He said “I support other Scottish suppliers from Stornoway, Callander and West Lothian; I’m open seven days a week to provide a service to Linlithgow’s tourist trade; I employ a total of 15 local staff and, yet, here’s my own council turning the screw on me.”
The Journal & Gazette spoke to other traders on the High Street and discovered many use private contractors to collect their refuse due to the council’s charges.
Martin Carr, a local businessman, said: “This is a ridiculous increase. I think the council is trying to price itself out of the waste collection market. That way it will save a fortune on the infrastructure and staff costs in not having to provide the service any longer.”
West Lothian Council said the purpose of its new trade waste recycling service was to enable businesses to comply with waste regulations introduced in 2012 and fully recover costs which had been heavily subsidised by the council. It is not intended as a means to generate additional income.
A spokesperson said: “There are other options available to business which are not affected by landfill tax and can reduce their costs for trade waste disposal.
‘‘For example, we have introduced trade waste recycling services for dry mixed recyclable goods, food waste and glass.
‘‘The charges for these recycling services are considerably lower than that for residual waste, reflecting the difference in disposal costs.
“With reduced public sector budgets, it’s vital the council has a fair charging structure in place to ensure resources are targeted at essential frontline services in the future.’’