Fri, 10 Aug 2018
MORE than 6,000 households across the district have now agreed to pay £50 to have their green bins emptied.
From Monday, September 3, people will have to pay to have their garden waste collected – a service which up until now has been provided free of charge.
The cash-strapped council says it had “little choice” but to introduce the controversial charge due to a massive reduction in government funding.
The local authority hopes it will bring in £900,000 of extra revenue a year.
It already has more than £340,000 in the bag after 5,000 households signed up to the service in the first five days following the launch of its online subscription service last week, and a further 1,800 have signed up since.
This service allows residents to sign themselves up or to register on behalf of family, friends and neighbours.
The charge comes into effect despite council tax increases in recent years, but the local authority’s executive portfolio holder for waste has stood by the decision to implement it.
Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) said: “In the face of mounting costs of important, statutory services such as adult social care, we had little choice but to consider this.
“Our grant from central government has fallen from £24m to virtually zero in the past five years, while demand for social care services has risen very rapidly.
“This has meant we have had to make difficult decisions about other council services as we take our responsibility towards our most vulnerable residents very seriously.”
Mrs Cole also said the “overwhelming” feedback from a six-week consultation the council held before voting on the scheme showed residents wanted the “valuable” service retained.
“Given this, we felt that it was best to begin charging for it rather than stopping it altogether,” said Mrs Cole, who reiterated that the council’s optional, flat-rate charge of £50 was broadly in line with other local authorities.
She also highlighted the scheme would not serve to make a profit, as it covered the cost of the service.
The charge was scheduled to be introduced earlier this month before being pushed back.
It is thought the delay will cost the council in the region of £150,000.
Mrs Cole also reassured residents that West Berkshire Council would not be following in the footsteps of neighbouring and “reckless” Reading Borough Council, which she said was “still overspending by millions of pounds each year”.
She added: “I’d like to thank all of those who have signed up for the service so far and I am sure that many others will do so in the coming weeks.
“We will always strive to keep council tax and charges as low as possible and have kept council expenditure under control, but as outlined above the burden of funding services is now falling more heavily on local people.”