People across North Northamptonshire WILL be charged £40 for green waste collections if a proposal before the authority’s executive gets the go-ahead.
Hundreds of local people reacted with anger last night after the members confirmed to their residents that the council is pushing ahead with its plans, despite a consultation of 9,500 local people being largely against the charge.
The £40 will be an opt-in fee for those who want their green waste bins emptied every second week and will amount to a 77p per week charge.
The charge, which is set to be ratified when the council’s executive meets next Thursday, will come into force in Autumn.
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Local people were consulted on the plans, and 9,000 responded – thought to be the council’s largest consultation response since it was formed a year ago.
About 80 per cent said they would rather the scheme was paid for through wider taxation, and not individual subscription charges for households who use the scheme.
North Northamptonshire Council released a statement at 7.20pm last night (Wednesday), after the printed edition of the Northants Telegraph had gone to press, saying that this was a ‘fairer way forward’ because residents who don’t have a garden won’t have to contribute. They described the move as a ‘harmonisation of services’.
But hundreds have already raised concerns across social media about fly-tipping and the pressures on household budgets.
What are opponents saying?
Hundreds have already reacted angrily on social media.
Councillor Scott Brown (Earls Barton, Conservative) said: “I am vehemently against the introduction of this charge. More residents have contacted me on this issue than any single other issue in my time as a councillor. I spoke to the majority of parish councils across the Earls Barton Ward I represent, all of whom have grave concerns about this charge and the consequences attached.”
Residents also commented on social media, with one saying: “You could tell from the consultation questions that the decision had already been made. All this is doing is punishing those with a garden. It will lead to more flytipping around the village which is going to cost the council more to clear away. Terrible decision without any thought about the consequences.”
Another said: “Absolutely ridiculous. Maybe if they’d provided a decent service in the first place, not so many people would mind but the service has been shocking for the last few months at least.”
What happened with the consultation?
Three quarters of residents said they agreed that the charges should be harmonised across the council area. A huge 80 per cent – about 5,600 people – who answered a question on charging thought that garden waste collection should be paid for through wider taxation and not through the individual charge for those who use the service.
Public documents state: “Flytipping in particular was a major worry for many respondents, particularly given how they believe this is already an issue within North Northamptonshire that is costing the council large amounts
of money, which raises environmental concerns.
“The second largest theme was about how respondents already receive kerbside collection for garden waste as part of their council tax. Many of these respondents said they were reluctant to pay any more, and many respondents highlighted with the cost-of-living crisis worsening they don't know how they will be able to pay.”
What are the costs involved?
Each resident will be asked to pay £40 annually for the collection, which will take place every second week, year round. Those who don’t pay won’t be able to get their garden waste collected and will be able to take it, for free, to council-run tips. Currently, the garden waste services cost the council £2.695m annually – or £22 per year, per house (including households who do not use it). The council estimates that charging residents £40 would pay for the entire service and also raise an extra £2.027m for council coffers.
Residents in East Northamptonshire already pay £55 per year for their collection so it will represent a reduction for them. Others in Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough, currently get their service for free.
What are council leaders saying?
Cllr Graham Lawman, the Council’s Executive member for Highways, Travel and Assets, said: “However we run the service, there is a considerable cost, whether this is direct or indirect, therefore, one of the main questions is whether it is right that funding comes from general funds, i.e., everyone’s council tax – which means that for the quarter of households that have no garden they are paying - or only from users of the service.
“The recent extensive consultation we ran showed that residents agree that we should harmonise the service and we believe that charging an appropriate, affordable rate to users only across the whole unitary area is the fairest way of running this service – creating the most cost-effective and sustainable solution.
“This also gives us an opportunity to promote home composting, which is the most efficient and climate friendly option.”
Council leader Cllr Jason Smithers said: “We believe providing a consistent service paid for by those who use it is the fairest way of providing kerbside collections for green waste.
“Furthermore, there are still options for those who choose to opt-out making it the best way of providing a unified North Northants service.”
What happens next?
A final decision will be made at the public meeting of the council’s executive team at the Corby Cube on July 14. People will have to sign up to the scheme in order to be charged the £40. You can read some answers to frequently asked questions here.