South Gloucestershire Council could charge residents £36 a year to empty green bins
FREE waste collection could be scrapped as the local authority scrabbles to make savings of nearly £45 million.
People in the region could be charged £36 per year to get their green bins picked up as part of South Gloucestershire Council's new waste strategy for 2013-2019. The document, which is currently the subject of a public consultation, sets out options to meet government cuts over the next four years.
The consultation has been blasted by Conservative group members, who feel it should have included a free option. As it stands three paid-for alternatives are set out in the local authority's waste strategy.
In the document, council bosses are proposing to introduce a subscription-based garden waste service. Residents would be offered an opt-in fortnightly green bin collection and be charged £36 per year, starting in October 2013. Pre-paid sacks could also be made available by the council, at £20 for each bundle of ten bags, to be put out for collection alongside green bins.
Locals on income support would receive a 50 per cent discount on the subscription price and pre-paid sacks.
Cllr James Hunt (Emersons Green), Conservative lead member for communities, said: "Consultation and engagement need to be things which South Gloucestershire Council can be proud of and so residents should be consulted on the full range of options and have the pros and cons for each one explained.
"Charging will almost certainly exceed the £350,000 savings requirement that the waste service has to achieve and so, if this going to be introduced, weÕll be pushing for the surplus to be used to protect our libraries and other important services."
There is also the very real risk that people may give up recycling if they are forced to pay for it.
The overhaul would help the council reach its savings target of £43 million.
Labour's lead member for communities issues, Cllr Pat Rooney (Woodstock) said that although the party objected to the move, it was arguably the lesser of two evils.
"We did not support the removal of the free bin option from the consultation," she said. "If the council ultimately chose not to charge for the green bin service then we'd have to implement cuts that could affect valued services such as libraries."
Charging for green bin collection is simply unavoidable as the council is under "increasing pressure" to make necessary savings, officers have claimed in their waste strategy report.
"The council is undertaking a major service transformation programme which over the four year period to 2014/15 is expected to deliver over £43 million of efficiency savings," the document said. "The waste management service, with a total revenue budget of over £20.8 million, could be expected to make a significant contribution to achieving this target."
To take part in the consultation visit https://consultations.southglos.gov.uk/consult.ti/SGwastestrategy2013