Plans to charge for garden waste collection 'should be dumped'
PLANS to introduce a £25 annual charge for garden waste collections have been rubbished by councillors.
Members of North East Lincolnshire Council's (NELC) Regeneration, Housing and Environment Scrutiny Panel were vociferous in their opposition to the proposals, which they discussed at a meeting at Grimsby Town Hall yesterday.
The committee also objected to the plan to charge households £25 for replacement bins.
As reported, both proposals were contained within a package of measures aimed at saving the authority £2.5 million over four years.
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However, council officers expect the number of households to have garden waste collected would drop from 50,000 to 11,000 if the charge for collections is introduced.
Councillor Alex Baxter (Con, Scartho) said the measure would create extra bureaucracy, anger residents and put a strain on family budgets.
Councillor Philip Jackson (Con, Waltham) said: "I think it is counter-intuitive if you are trying to encourage recycling that you then start charging residents for the privilege."
He said more needed to be done to force "bone idle" residents to recycle, rather than discriminating against those were already making an effort.
Councillor Geoff Lowis (Lib Dem, Park) said: "There's anger out there at the principle of charging; many people believe it's a core council service. Reading the report, it comes across as mean and small-minded. What are the administration costs for this going to be? It seems to be a recipe for chaos."
Councillor John Fenty (Con, Humberston & New Waltham) described the proposals as a "series of stealth taxes". He said: "I find it preposterous that we are potentially going to go down to 11,000 bins from 50,000, and get someone to collect them and scrap them."
Chairman of the committee Councillor Andrew De Freitas (Lib Dem, Park) said imposing a charge would send out the wrong message to the public.
"We need to encourage more people to recycle and we need them to do it in a responsible manner."
The panel also recommended that council officers enter talks with New Lincs, the company that processes waste for the authority, to see if better use could be made of its waste management facilities.
The panel's recommendations will be considered by Cabinet, which will meet next month to decide whether to implement the proposals.
To help residents fully understand the proposals, today we are printing a full breakdown of questions about the service.
As reported, they come as North East Lincolnshire Council aims to find £43 million in savings by 2014-15, to fill the hole left by central government cuts.
If implemented, it is estimated that the changes to waste charges could save £2.5 million over four years.
The package includes proposals to start introducing an annual charge of £25 for garden waste collections – which is about £1.25 per collection.
NELC also anticipates it will raise around £125,000 per year by charging householders £25 for a replacement bin and £10 for a set of recycling boxes.
In 2010-11 the council replaced more than 4,300 bins and more than 3,200 sets of recycling boxes. Repairs will continue to be free and there will be exemptions for "vulnerable" households.
Other suggested measures include: pre-sorting all community recycling centres to avoid landfill charges; taking advantage of high commodity prices and long-term contracts to increase recycling income; and reducing garden waste collections in the winter.
Currently 50,000 households have brown bins – a number the council expects to drop to 11,000 if a charge is introduced. The council also estimates that overall recycling performance will drop by up to 7 per cent as a result.
However, when the Grimsby Telegraph broke the news of the plan last week, residents were quick to voice their opposition.
Commenting on www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk, GaryGy said: "I already recycle as much garden and green waste as my compost bin will allow.
"I think I'll just shove the rest in my household bin if they want to be stupid about it. Or maybe throw it in those convenient roadside bins they insist we use."
A spokesman for NELC said if the proposals were implemented, waste collection operatives would refuse to take any general waste bins containing garden waste.
Leader of the council, Chris Shaw, added: "Councils are not obliged to collect garden waste; it is discretionary. Unfortunately, due to the pressures we are under from central government to make huge savings to our budget, we can no longer offer it for free."