Councils set to consider charging for garden waste service

Councils set to consider charging for garden waste service
Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Council will consider proposals to charge for the local garden waste service from January 2018

This spring councillors at Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Council will consider proposals to charge for the garden waste service provided by the councils’ Joint Waste Service. If proposals are approved, residents across the two areas will be asked to pay a minimum charge of £36 a year for a fortnightly garden waste collection service from 1 January 2018, which works out around £1.40 per collection.

Councillor Iain Eadie, Cabinet Member for Waste Management at Lichfield District Council, explains: “Charging for our garden waste service is not a decision councillors will take lightly. However, vast reductions in government funding and other factors that mean Lichfield District Council is facing a £626,000 funding gap in 2018/19 and a further £2 million funding gap in 2019/20 and more in future years, mean we have no choice but to consider making difficult decisions across the board. When coupled with a possible reduction in the recycling credits we receive from Staffordshire County Council that help to underpin our recycling service, we must seriously consider these proposals.

“Providing a garden waste service is not something we have to do, and one alternative we have looked at is stopping the service completely, which has been done by some councils across the country. Such a move would see residents having to take their own garden waste to the tip, employing private waste services, at a likely higher cost than our proposed annual charge, or composting at home. We know that we have lots of passionate gardeners across Lichfield District and Tamworth Borough and we want to be able to continue to offer them a garden waste collection service, which is why we are now considering maintaining the service on a chargeable basis, rather than withdrawing it.”

Councillors at Lichfield District Council will consider the proposals at a meeting of the Leisure, Parks & Waste Management Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 8 March 2017. If supported, the proposals will then be considered for approval at a meeting of Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet on 4 April 2017. Councillors at Tamworth Borough Council will consider the proposals at a meeting of Full Council on 4 April 2017.

If approved by both councils, preparations for charging will take place throughout the summer and residents’ garden waste collections will stop on 1 January 2018, unless they have signed up to the new scheme. Residents will be able to opt in to the garden waste scheme towards the end of 2017, if they wish to continue to receive a fortnightly garden waste collection from 1 January 2018.

Councillor Joy Goodall, Portfolio Holder for Environment & Culture at Tamworth Borough Council, explains: “Councils across the country are under severe financial pressure from government funding cuts and are having to find creative ways to safeguard local services. Both Tamworth Borough and Lichfield District councils are also likely to be affected by financial pressures facing Staffordshire County Council in its bid to safeguard its provision of adult and social care services.

“It is forecast the county council will have no choice but to cut the recycling credits provided to district and borough councils in the future, which currently help to underpin recycling services. We recognise that residents will not welcome the charge for the garden waste service, but by introducing a ‘producer pays’ policy, we are aiming to make the charge as fair as possible. We are very hopeful that people will understand the financial pressures councils are facing, and that by charging for the service we can help to safeguard it and other vital local services.”

Under the proposals, residents will be able to pay for a yearly garden waste collection service. It will cost £36 a year, if residents pay online, or £40 if residents pay by cash or cheque or by card over the phone. All residents will receive a leaflet explaining how they can sign up and pay for their garden waste collections before the end of this year. Once signed up residents will receive a sticker to put on their garden waste bin and the computer systems in the recycling crews’ vehicles will be updated so they know which bins are in the scheme and need to be emptied. The councils are considering a direct debit payment option, so that residents don’t need to remember to sign up annually.

Councillor Iain Eadie, Cabinet Member for Waste at Lichfield District Council, continued: “If the proposals are approved, and residents don’t want to or can’t afford the annual charge, composting at home is a great alternative that is low cost and also great for the environment and your garden. We are currently offering subsidised composting bins through a partnership with Recycle for Staffordshire & Stoke. Find out more at www.getcomposting.com.”

A set of Frequently Asked Questions have been developed at www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/gardenfaqs and www.tamworth.gov.uk/gardenfaqs

Proposals to charge for the local garden waste service from January 2018

Proposals to charge for the local garden waste service from January 2018