Fri, 19 Jul 2019
WEST Berkshire Council is encouraging residents to pay for another year of green bin collections – but there will be no six-month half-price option this time.
The controversial £50 green bin charge was introduced in 2018 in a bid to generate around £900,000 a year.
The council faced heavy criticism for failing to properly publicise a cheaper six-month option, which cost £25.
However, the local authority’s then executive member for waste, Hilary Cole, said the £25 option was clearly displayed within the terms of conditions sent out to residents.
Now, with residents being asked to pay £50 for another year of garden waste collections, the £25 option has been removed altogether.
The council said: “There will be no part-year charge for 2019/20. A part-year charge was only included for the first year the subscription charge was introduced.
“The service was new and we wanted to give a part-year option at a reduced price for residents who may have missed the initial launch.
“As the scheme is now established, we will not be continuing with a part- year charge.”
Around 29,700 households across the district signed up for the 2018/19 collection service, generating a net income of £614,000 since the charge was introduced last September. The council's target was £525,000 net income.
The withdrawal of a cheaper option has been criticised by opposition members.
Steve Masters (Green, Speen) said: “After neglecting to publicise the March-to-September payment option last year, the Conservatives seem set on a policy that puts barriers in the way of people wishing to do the right thing.
“While the Green group on the council will continue to oppose this regressive charge that impacts the poorest families, the very least the council could do is offer a reduced-price part- year option.
“Once again the administration shows it is out of touch with public opinion and seems unable to empathise with the very people it purports to represent.
“I call on council leader Lynne Doherty to initiate a root-and-branch review of waste services in the district, including kerbside recycling provision alongside the alternatives to the green bin charge.”
Shadow opposition member for climate change Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Wash Common) said: “Trying to charge people for doing something that’s good for the planet gives the wrong message out completely. I don’t really get it – it’s like a sneaky tax.
“It does seem very cynical. We can borrow money for certain things, like buying property, but can’t collect green waste.”
Subscriptions to the 2019/20 garden waste collection service opened on Tuesday. Residents signing up will have their garden waste – including grass cuttings, prunings, plants and weeds – collected every fortnight.
The council advised residents to subscribe before August 11 “to ensure collections continue without interruption”.
The subscription period runs from September 2, 2019, to August 28, 2020, and costs £50 for the first bin.
Residents can subscribe to the service at any time until June 30, 2020.
No concessions are available and the council said that it cannot accept direct debit payments.
Garden waste can be taken to the recycling centres in Newbury and Padworth or composted at home.
To subscribe online or for more information about the service, visit www.westberks.gov.uk/gardenwaste