“Garden Tax” Under Scrutiny Ahead of Changes

I spoke at Colchester Council Scrutiny Meeting on behalf of Stanway residents on Tuesday 7th July, relating to proposed changes to the garden waste collection scheme.

Link to the meeting is below.

Below is a transcript of what I said: “In a recent announcement by Colchester Council to propose to start charging for garden waste collections across the borough, this has raised uncertainty in the way the waste and recycling portfolio is being managed.

“Residents have raised valid concerns over how proposed changes to their garden waste collections and in particular how these changes will affect those on low or limited incomes, or those who lack the means to dispose of garden waste at the local recycling centre.

“With an additional cost of £25 being levied to each household for those who want to take up this service to cover the cost of an additional wheelie bin (or their first depending on where you live in the Borough), are there simply no options available for households to continue to use their white sack – it seems such a waste. Has the cost for vehicle updates to accommodate wheelie bin lifts even been considered.

“The proposals for Colchester Council garden waste collection service seemingly suggest this will be operated as a separate revenue stream at £50 per household per year (in addition to the cost of the wheelie bin), I ask the question, should the proposed new garden waste collection service perhaps be subject to a tender process.

“Today I am reaching out to the Administration to raise some vital questions surrounding the proposals, hopefully with the view of receiving some answers.”One local resident asks: “Other councils suspend their green waste collections during the winter months to reduce costs, why not explore alternatives rather than charging households extra when the council tax will inevitably rise next year.”- good question.

“Another local resident raised a valid concern over the potential increased risk of fly-tipping and additional queues at the recycling centre. “Some additional questions also raised include:

“Will we see a reduction in Council Tax when the service comes into operation” and “Will this be a weekly collection service.””It is uncertain at this time if a household can opt in and opt out of the service as their demand requires, or if there are contractual elements in place. If there are contractual elements in place, what will the service level agreement be for missed collections and will households be penalized if their wheelie bin isn’t out for collection on time.

“In the end, the decision to change such an important part of the waste and recycling programme should in my opinion be discussed by all duly elected Councillors at Full Council and not by any one person taking responsibility for a change to such a critical service in the town.”