Wealden Council Leaders have come in for criticism for not refunding garden waste collection payments following strike action.
At a meeting of Wealden District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday (4th July), Cabinet Member for Housing and Waste Ray Cade confirmed the Council would not be offering a refund to residents who pay for garden waste collections, despite the recent disruption to the service.
Cllr Cade had been responding to Cllr David White (Ind, Hellingly), who was following up on questions asked at previous meetings around what would be done with money the Council withheld from its waste contractor Biffa during the strike.
At those previous meetings, Councillors had asked whether the Council would use part of this money to refund those who paid for the service or bring them some other benefit in some form.
Cllr Cade said:
It was never said we would refund or extend the period of the garden waste [collections].
But for administration purposes and just to be reasonable, it was agreed that we would freeze the cost. It is, I can assure you, costing the council quite a large sum of money to do the freezing.
We are still dealing with the money that Biffa has paid us and the extra expenses we’ve had. For example we had to stand the expense of the pop-ups that we organised.Cllr Cade
The freeze in the cost of the service is expected to last until 2024. This, the Council says, means Wealden’s garden collection service will stay at £55 per bin per year until at least July 2024.
The decision came in for criticism from several councillors, including Cllr White. He said:
Can I say, I would feel pretty cheated if I had paid for collection of green waste and hadn’t received it. I would expect to get my money back.
It is all very well to say we are not going to charge you more for the service in the future, but I may not want the service in the future. I might decide to cancel, but I still haven’t had collection of those waste bins I’ve paid for.Cllr White
It seems to me that WDC have been paid twice for a service that has not been provided. Once by those who subscribed for the service and again by withholding payment to Biffa. Not to partially refund those who had contracted in good faith for garden waste collection smacks of profiteering of the backs of residents. Any wonder that politics is a dirty word these days…