Green bin concession introduced for needy

Published on: 05 Oct 2014

THE “green bin tax” in South Gloucestershire is here to stay – but additional financial concessions have been introduced for the most needy.

The council introduced a £36 annual charge for fortnightly garden waste collections in April, with a 50 per cent reduction for people on certain benefits.

Now it says it will bring in a hardship scheme to provide further support in exceptional circumstances.

About 38,000 residents have signed up for the scheme. Unwanted green bins are due to be collected from this month.

A council spokesman said: “You can also keep your bin for other uses; for example you can turn it into a water butt or use it for storing gardening equipment and materials such as compost, pots, or seed trays. You cannot take unwanted green bins to the Sort It centres.”

Thousands of people signed protest petitions about the new charge, which came in alongside additional kerbside recycling collections.

Kingswood’s Tory MP Chris Skidmore secured a parliamentary debate on the topic and won the support of ministers, including Eric Pickles and Brandon Lewis, who said: “Households deserve a frequent and comprehensive rubbish and recycling service in return for the average of £122 a month paid in council tax by a typical band D household, especially given that the typical refuse collection service costs councils only £6 to £7 a month to provide. It is reasonable for householders to expect their waste to be collected every week. It is the most visible service people get for their council tax, and it is often the number one item on their list of what they expect for it.”

South Gloucestershire Council held a debate on the bin charge last month. Officers said there had been little evidence that people had been fly-tipping to dispose of garden waste. The Conservatives wanted to see the charge removed first for the most vulnerable and then for everyone. Spokesman Ian Adams said it was a regressive tax that hit 80 per cent of households, although only 35 per cent had decided to subscribe to the collections.

But Labour’s spokesman Ian Boulton said it was necessary to make cuts and charges to balance the books.

South Gloucestershire Council has already reduced its spending by £43m a year and needs to save a further £36m a year by 2020.

Mr Skidmore described the decision to keep the charge as very disappointing. Information about the garden waste service is available from www.southglos.gov.uk/gardenwasteservice

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