Residents to be charged up to £56 for green bin collection in South Gloucestershire
RECYCLING their garden waste will cost households up to an extra £56 a year as council chiefs attempt to offset government cuts of nearly £45 million.
Members of South Gloucestershire Council's communities committee backed plans to introduce an annual fee of £36 to pick up residents' green bins by a majority on Tuesday.
Locals will also have to shell out an additional £20 for a pre-paid bundle of ten recycling sacks.
The move will cost the taxpayer £1.2 million district-wide for a service which had so far been provided for free.
The Conservative group, which had strongly opposed the motion, said this new financial burden on already struggling families would lead to fly-tipping and harm the environment by forcing cash-strapped households to stop recycling altogether.
Cllr James Hunt, the council's Conservative lead member for communities, said: "Residents have pointed out how this move will damage our local environment by increasing fly-tipping, backyard burning and black bin usage, which will cut the district’s recycling rate.
"It really is misleading to suggest that slapping new taxes onto residents is the only way to save the council money. For instance, we should have been putting the pressure on Sita to work more efficiently, but instead the council has leapt into cutting frontline services first."
In February South Gloucestershire Council officers consulted the public on their new waste strategy for 2013-2019.
The document set out ways to meet government cuts over the next four years such as introducing a subscription-based fortnightly garden waste service.
Council officers however admitted that the district’s current 51 per cent recycling rate could fall by 1.5 per cent if green bin charging was introduced – below the national 50 per cent milestone.
The strategy was blasted by Conservative group members, who felt it should have included a free option.
Of the almost 2,000 consultation responses received, a majority of comments were against paying for green bin collection.
Labour's lead member for communities Cllr Pat Rooney said, however, that charging for bin collection may be the only way to save other essential services .
"Nobody wants to impose charges for a service that is currently free, and I recognise how unpopular this decision will be," she said. "However, the council is staring at a black hole in its finances and is being forced by government cuts to slash services. We have concluded that this is the least worst option.
"If we don’t introduce charges in our green waste service, the council will have to look to other services to stump up the savings."
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