A woman with type 1 diabetes is urging her local council to overturn its decision to start charging to collect sharps boxes.
Claire Clarke, 43, who has had type 1 diabetes since the age of six, is unhappy that Thanet District Council will expect payment for disposing clinical waste from 1 April.
Speaking to Kent Live, Claire said: “I didn’t ask for this condition, but I have to live with it. And now I’m being charged. I’m furious as are many others.”
Claire does not think it is fair that she should be expected to pay for the collection of her used needles, a service that has historically always been free in her area.
The mother of one from Margate added: “We are now having to pay extra on top of council tax rises. A lot of people can’t afford to feed their families properly, let alone if they have a type 1 child. There is a lot of bad feeling about this – not just from people affected.”
In a letter written by the council, it said the decision was “not made lightly” and costs have been kept to a “minimum”.
The charges vary depending on the amount of waste. Providing and collecting of clinical sacks will cost £214.13 per year, the provision and collection of 11.5 litre sharps containers will cost £6.71 and 22 litre sharps bins will cost £8.49 per collection.
The council added: “In the current financial climate, the question of charging has been revisited and it was agreed by full council in December 2017 that the council now needs to charge for this service.”
A Thanet District Council spokesperson 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.”
Claire is now lobbying the council – along with many other affected people – to try to get the decision overturned.
Benedict Jephcote, Editor of Diabetes.co.uk, said: “One problem with this decision by the council is that it may incentivise people to throw medical waste, such as used needles, into general waste. This could present significant danger of transferring blood borne illnesses which proper disposal of sharps bins prevents. It is very important that the appropriate sharps bins are used for this reason.”