Mon, 16 Jul 2018
THE delay to the introduction of West Berkshire Council’s controversial £50 green bin charge is expected to cost the local authority in the region of £150,000.
The cash-strapped council approved the charge in March in a bid to generate an additional £900,000 over the next four years – and it had originally planned to introduce it in June.
However, the local authority later admitted the scheme will now come into effect “later this summer” due to the unforeseen delay, but still has not given a definite date.
At an executive meeting last Thursday, the West Berkshire Green Party kept up the pressure on its political rivals by quizzing the ruling Conservatives on the implications.
Green Party agent David Marsh asked the council’s portfolio holder for waste, Hilary Cole, what financial impact the delay would have.
To which she replied: “This is not a tax.
“This is a discretionary charge for an opt-in service.
“The unexpected delay in the council’s plan to charge for garden waste will be a one-off cost in year of around £150,000.”
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News after the meeting, Mrs Cole said: “We are not sure exactly when it will come in yet, but we should know a bit more next week.
“Whenever there’s a change to a service it can take a while to come into effect.
“I’d rather there be a delay and we get it right than rush to get it done and get it wrong.”
At the meeting, West Berkshire Green Party chairman Steve Masters claimed that hundreds of residents were planning to return their green bins to the council because they weren’t prepared to opt in to the £50 charge.
He then asked Mrs Cole what plans the council had in place to facilitate and store “the large number of unwanted green wheelie bins” were that to happen.
To which Mrs Cole replied: “I think what people say and what people do are two totally different things, so I will reserve my answer until I see just how many people are wanting to return their green bins.
“People can retain their green bins to put their food waste in and that will be emptied as part of the normal recycling collection.
“So I would strongly advise all residents to retain their green bin to dispose of their food waste if they don't want to compost it.
“So the green bins will not, in my view, be redundant.”
Mrs Cole admitted that the council could do nothing to stop people dumping their garden waste in black bins instead.
However, she added: “We hope that residents will subscribe to the new service.
“If they don’t choose to recycle their garden waste and they have space, they are not prevented from putting it in their black bin, which has always been the case.
“We do, of course, encourage those residents who have the facility to compost their own garden waste at home.”
Mr Marsh finished by asking Mrs Cole whether she thought the £50 charge was ripping off residents.
He said: “Regardless of the income generated, would you agree with the BBC that this charge is an example of ‘Rip off Britain’, introduced for no other reason than to allow you to increase council tax by the maximum 5.99 per cent then slap an additional payment on top?”
To which Mrs Cole replied: “I would certainly disagree with the BBC, Mr Marsh, and if they were in our position of having to make significant savings in areas that affect the most vulnerable I’m sure they would be slapping on far more increases than we are allowed to do as a local authority.”