North Northamptonshire Council Council puts green waste decision on ice amid concerns of executive rebellion

The authority had proposed to charge £40 for garden waste bin emptying

By Kate Cronin
Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 8:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 9:01 pm
The changes to North Northamptonshire's green waste service have been delayed
The changes to North Northamptonshire's green waste service have been delayed

A decision on whether to start charging £40 for the collection of green waste bins across North Northamptonshire has been kicked into the long grass this evening (Tuesday, July 12) after leading councillors raised concerns.

Last week the lead member for Highways, Travel and Assets Cllr Graham Lawman (Conservative, Hatton Park) and leader Cllr Jason Smithers (Conservative, Oundle) said that they thought the fee was the ‘fairest way of running the service’.

But other members of the executive disagreed, and rather than facing an embarrassing rebellion, the item has now been pulled from Thursday’s agenda. It follows a week of intense opposition on social media and the launching of a petition, which tonight stands at more than 1,500 signatures.

There has been no formal announcement from NNC but tonight, executive member Councillor David Howes (Conservative, Desborough) posted on his social media page that the executive had decided to delay their decision.

He said: “All morning the executive/ cabinet met as we usually do. When the item came up for discussion again regarding the green waste committee paper that we are due to consider this Thursday I along with a few others argued that we are not happy with the paper or the options.

"I have been reading the comments on social media and receiving correspondence from residents as other NNC Cllrs have, and I felt uncomfortable about what we are considering with the paper before us.

“It’s clear that the public are not happy with the options in the paper, I and other cabinet members agreed we feel more time is needed to consider the wider green impacts that collecting green waste brings. We recognise that we have an area within North Northants which currently pays an additional charge (East Northants) for green waste to be collected and other areas don’t, and we need to make this fair across North Northants, so everyone receives the same service.

“So, in summary the committee will no longer be deciding on the Green Waste for the whole of North Northants this Thursday and more work is needed before we are to decide what the best thing to do on this is going to be.

"We are instructing officers to go away and look at several different things which are not being considered currently.”

More than 9,500 people responded to a consultation in the spring, with 80 per cent against the charge. Councillors have had full sight of those consultation results for some time. But the executive only decided to reconsider the item after this week’s avalanche of publicity.

Other options already considered by officers – and rejected – include retaining the current service; providing a universal service with no extra fee; moving the service to monthly; charging a higher subscription fee; using a third-party provider to run the service; and launching a new subscription service next spring rather than this autumn. The final option was rejected because it would delay the harmonisation of services and would mean the council missing out on the extra money generated by the subscription’s earlier implementation.

Cllr Simon Rielly, (Labour Oakley) shadow portfolio holder for highways said: “I am so pleased that the NNC Executive have seen sense and withdrawn this appalling policy from their agenda on Thursday. We knew that there would be opposition to this, but the public support on the petition has been incredible and it is clear that people see this as a further stealth tax, and at a time of rising costs it is a disgrace that this was even brought to the table.

“Over 80 per cent of people responding to the consultation were against this charge. NNC totally ignored this and in their normal cavalier way, thought that they could bulldoze this through with minimal scrutiny. Well the people have spoken and this is not now going ahead.”

Cllr Alison Dalziel (Labour, Corby West), said: “It beggars belief, that a council who declared a climate emergency, and committed to carbon neutral by 2030, could then try to introduce a regressive policy, which would be expensive to administer, is totally flawed and would have led to widespread flytipping of green waste in the area.

"I am very relieved to hear that the item has been removed from the agenda.”

A statement from NNC this evening confirmed that the item would now be deferred. Cllr Smithers said: “I am aware that the future provision of our Garden Waste service is an incredibly important decision for both residents and the Council, now and in the future.

“I am also very aware of the different views from residents and our councillors and I want to ensure that we further engage and listen to these views so that we all get a better understanding of the various options and their impacts before taking the decision.

“I will explain in a little more detail at Thursday’s meeting what that will look like.

“I fully appreciate and recognise the importance of our Garden Waste service and I want to ensure that any decisions made are done so after a wider debate and discussion. I anticipate that a report on the options will come back to Executive in September this year.”