THE costs of collecting and disposing of commercial trade waste by Herefordshire Council will remain unknown after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request went unanswered.

The Hereford Times asked how much Herefordshire Council spent taking commercial trade waste to landfill during the last financial year.

The FOI also asked how much was received for taking commercial trade waste from premises over the same period.

But neither question was answered because disclosure would, according to Herefordshire Council, be likely to “prejudice” its commercial interests.

The council also claims the requested information is “not trivial” and could be used by competitors to their own advantage and the disadvantage of Herefordshire Council – which undertakes the collection of commercial trade waste as the contractor.

The Hereford Times received claims from readers saying the council is charging “too little” for its commercial trade waste collection and tax-payers are “picking up the tab”.

However, responding to questions from the Hereford Times, Richard Wood, head of environment and waste services, said: “The council is required to make a ‘reasonable charge’ for trade waste collections.

“Consequently, we cannot make an excessive profit, which is an option for waste companies in the private sector. The council’s trade waste charges are based on a full cost recovery basis and we are not allowed to charge value added tax, hence the overall cost of the service may appear to be relatively low.

“However, the prices for trade waste collections have increased by three per cent this year and the service is not subsidised by the tax payer.”

In the council’s statement of refusal to answer the request, it claimed disclosure of the information would have a “detrimental impact” on its income target for the service.

If that target is adversely affected, savings would have to be made elsewhere, it said.