‘You bin had’ say protestors

Published on: 05 May 2014

GARDENERS in Downend will already have forked out their £36 each to have their green bins emptied every fortnight – but the political mud-slinging over the so-called “bin tax” is continuing.

South Gloucestershire Council brought in the annual charge on March 31 for collecting green waste from outside people's homes.

Householders have to register for the collection and so far about 30,000 have done so – more than expected at this stage.

Conservative councillors are critical of the charges and of the cost of implementing the scheme, which they say could be as high as £650,000. They are backed by the Kingswood Tory MP Chris Skidmore, who has collected more than 4,000 signatures on a petition that has secured a debate on the issue at the full council meeting later in the year.

But Labour and the Lib Dems are calling on the Tories to “come clean” on the costs of their alternative plans for waste collection.

A number of residents were caught out by the introduction by contractors Sita of the scheme on March 31, a Monday, rather than on the first day of the next month.

Among them was John Hague, of Salisbury Road, who said he had been incorrectly informed by the council that his green bin would be collected on March 31.

“When it wasn't, Sita initially refused to come back to collect it. But when I asked Councillor Janet Biggin to intervene, it was then collected later in the week. The council could have saved so much stress and taxpayers' money by leaving the bin collection service and dates as they were."

Councillor Biggin said: “The examples which I am hearing on the doorstep show why the council was wrong to introduce bin charging - its implementation has been a joke and has caused unnecessary stress and inconvenience to residents. Not only this, but households will be horrified to know that at a time when money is tight this flawed bin tax is actually costing them a whopping £650,000 to put in place. So not only will this damaging policy decrease recycling rates, increase fly tipping and worsen the cost of living, but it isn't even raising any money and is actually hundreds of thousands of pounds to implement."

A council spokesman said: “Like all major projects the new green bin subscription service will incur one-off implementation costs, which will be cancelled out by the significant savings that the project will generate for South Gloucestershire in the coming years.”

He added that higher take-up was likely to reduce the costs.

On the date issue, the spokesman said: “While we have sought to respond as quickly as possible to all service requests, we ideally need a minimum of five days to confirm and activate a subscription. 

“As a result, unfortunately any residents who activated their subscription after 26 March were unlikely to have had their garden waste collected on 31 March.”

Householders have the option of buying garden waste sacks at £2 each for kerbside collection if they do not wish to opt in to the green bin scheme, which costs £36 or £18 concessionary rate. 

Alternatively, garden waste can be taken to Sort It! Centres – although there are continuing concerns that this will lead to lengthy queues outside the tips at weekends. 

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