Wealden District Council is looking to introduce charges for garden waste collections when the new Joint Waste Contract for refuse and recycling comes into effect.
CrowboroughLife reported earlier this year that the current contract with Keir was going to end in June 2019, because of the falling price in recyclable materials.
Since then Wealden District Council has been working with other local authorities in East Sussex to draw-up a new specification before procuring a new service.
They have decided not to bring the service back “in-house” and to continue with fortnightly collections. Instead of having a blue box in future, glass will instead be “co-mingled” with paper, cans, plastic bottles and other recycling in the “green” wheelie bin. Following discussions, the Council has decided not to introduce a separate food waste collection like Lewes, even though the facility at Whitesmith on the A22 can also reprocess kitchen waste into compost:
The Cabinet member for Waste Management has agreed in principle that residents wanting garden waste collected from their home should have to pay separately for the service. The charge is likely to be around £50 per year.
At a recent Town Council meeting, when the matter was discussed, Councillor Kay Moss said Crowborough is at a disadvantage as the recycling site on Farningham Road is closed Sunday afternoon, which causes a concern for the increase in fly-tipping.
At the meeting of Full Council last week the Cabinet member for Waste Management, updated District Councillors on the work of the Joint Waste Committee and the options they had considered:
Councillor Roy Galley, Cabinet member for Waste Management, said:
Garden waste collection is not a service Councils are required to provide. It was introduced in Wealden 15 years ago to boost a fledgling recycling service. Recycling collections have come a long way since those early days and we need to review the services we provide and how we deliver and pay for them.
Rather than look to the council tax to fund garden waste collections, we think it is not unreasonable to ask the residents who value the service to make a contribution to the cost, as residents in the other joint waste partnership authorities of Rother and Hastings do. We have indicated that a charge of £1 a week is likely although the final figure will not be known until the cost of collections under the new contract is agreed late next year.
It is estimated the cost of keeping the brown bin service free to all households would cost the Council around £400,000 per year, this is equivalent to a £6 increase in Council Tax for an average Band D household.
Cllr Galley added:
We are a large rural district and I know many residents have excellent opportunities to compost in their own gardens, and many already choose to do so. We will be promoting offers on a range of home composting equipment before the new scheme starts, providing residents with the opportunity to compost for themselves.
Our free garden waste service collection has not been so widely used during those times in the gardening year when there is little demand, possibly adding unnecessarily to vehicle emissions. We will be sure those who pay directly for their service, will make the most of it.
This is a decision we regret having to make. Like our residents, we are proud of Wealden’s strong recycling record, achieving recycling rates above 50%. We hope we will be able to continue to achieve this in the future.
The cost of Wealden’s garden waste collections has been partly subsidised by the returns our current contractor, Kier, has been able to make on recycled materials. There has been a sharp fall in the value of these materials on international markets in the past five years. The new collection contract will not include any reductions for the resale of recycling. Arrangements for disposal are still to be agreed.
Wealden District Council is working with other authorities, Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council, as part of a Joint Waste Partnership. Eastbourne Borough Council has decided to withdraw from the Partnership. They are working with Lewes District Council to introduce shared services. The new contract will begin in June 2019.
Wealden District Council currently charge £40 a year if you would like a second brown bin.
There is currently a cap imposed by the Government preventing Councils increasing their Council Tax by more than 2% or £5 on a Band D bill (whichever is the greater) without getting the approval of residents in a referendum (which is expensive to administer).