A “VOLUNTARY” cut to waste collection was met with no objection from Thatcham Town Council.
West Berkshire Council is proposing to charge an annual subscription of around £50 a household for the collection of garden waste.
The council said that the charge amounted to less than £2 per collection.
The cash-strapped authority said that the proposed charge would generate an estimated income of £900,000 a year, which will help pay for the council’s rubbish and recycling collection service.
Discussing the charge, Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said that the scheme was the thin end of the wedge.
He said: “Once you start charging for various things, it becomes a fix, just
keep going back to the well. £1 a week this year, ‘that was easy, let’s do it again’.”
Referencing increased charges to parking in Newbury on Sundays, Mr Brooks feared that the same could happen with the new charge.
“Once you do something like that for garden waste – £50 then £75 – it’s the thin end of the wedge and therefore the council could reasonably say ‘it’s all regrettable that we are having to do these things’.
He urged the district council to freeze the charge for three years to, he
said, “give some certainty to householders”.
“Let’s be clear to people who are struggling.”
The council has said that residents will be able to opt in to the subscription service.
Those who do, can continue to use their green bin and will receive a bin sticker to show that the service has been paid for.
The green bin can be put out with recycling every fortnight.
Non-subscribers will stop receiving a garden waste collection. However, the council can still collect food for recycling if desired.
There will be no service concessions.
Referring to the detail, Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said: “At least the tax-paying resident has a choice with this scheme.
“It’s going to raise a considerable sum.
“This is a cash-strapped council, along with others.
“West Berkshire Council has gone through everything to raise money wherever it can.
West Berkshire’s councillor for waste, Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston) and town councillor for Thatcham South and Crookham, agreed with his Conservative colleague.
He said: “This is a choice. This is an important issue.
“People who have large gardens, like councillor Brooks and others, will probably take up the service.
“We anticipate 45 per cent of people will take up the £50 a year.
“That will deliver, we hope, £900,000 income.
“East Devon district council recently introduced this scheme and residents are absolutely delighted.
“It’s something they didn’t have before and now they do.
“It’s unfortunate we are having to ask residents to pay for a service that was free, but that’s where we are.”
And Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham West) said that, while he didn’t welcome asking residents to pay, the proposal was “more justifiable” than a reduction in funding to Citizens Advice West Berkshire.
Mr Brooks’ request to freeze the charge for three years was voted down.