PEOPLE living whose use an already-congested recycling centre claim changes to South Gloucestershire Council’s green bin collections will put lives at risk.

Residents who use the Mangotsfield SORT IT centre, including householders in Wick and Pucklechurch, are campaigning against the introduction of a new bin tax.

From March 31, the council is imposing a £36 surcharge for green bins across the district to be emptied on routine rounds. The opt-in service has been heavily criticised by people who say they will simply stop recycling their garden waste or will instead drive to a Sort It centre to empty their bins themselves.

The authority itself has admitted up to 75,000 more visits a year (a 10 per cent increase) could be made once the charges are brought in.

Cllr Ian Adams (Con, Siston) said Carsons Road, which leads to the Mangotsfield centre, is already hazardous.

“Feelings are already running very high locally about the existing traffic nightmare in and around the council's Sort It centres, particularly at Mangotsfield which simply cannot cope with the demand that is placed on it,” he said.

“As a result, traffic backs up onto Carsons Road, which means that nearby residents wanting to access their homes and go about their daily lives have to pull out into oncoming traffic in order to drive around queuing recyclers.

“Lives are already being put at risk and it's only a matter of time before there's a serious accident.”

He added: “I'm calling on the council to urgently put in place measures to deal with the community's very real concerns about the outrageous effects of this new bin tax and how it will impact upon people’s daily lives.”

Boyd Valley councillors Ben Stokes and Steve Reade said in a statement: "The Mangotsfield Sort It centre is used by many Boyd Valley residents who already have concerns about having to start queuing on Carsons Road in order to use the facility, such is the high level of demand.

“This bad situation will get even worse once green bin charging kicks in because the council is actively encouraging residents to dispose of the green bin waste at Sort It centres if they want to avoid this new tax.

"So not only will the council's green bin charge decrease recycling rates, increase fly tipping and worsen the cost of living, but it will also heap yet more pressure onto already-stretched Sort It centres, particularly at Mangotsfield.”

A council spokesman said: "The changes aim to balance the costs of our waste services against our income, at a time of significant reductions in funding for all local authorities. One way we are doing this is by changing the fortnightly garden waste collection service to an opt-in subscription service, in line with our neighbouring local authorities.

“These changes may lead to an increase in trips to Sort It centres and to help reduce queuing we have, since last year, introduced a number of traffic management measures at our sites.

"These include new non-peak operating times, summer operating hours, new traffic signage and, from May, traffic cameras to allow residents to check traffic levels ahead of their visit. We are confident that these changes will help mitigate against the increased demand expected at our Sort It sites but we will keep the matter under close review.”