Councils introduce garden waste collection charge in North and East Herts despite public outcry

PUBLISHED: 12:15 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:35 17 October 2017

North Herts Bins.

North Herts Bins.

Danny Loo Photography 2017

You will soon have to pay a £40 charge to have your garden bins emptied following a vote by North Herts and East Herts district councils at a joint cabinet meeting on Monday.

Votes were cast in favour of chargeable garden waste collections in the two districts, even after a public survey showed that 85 per cent of residents were against the proposal.

The cabinet voted to implement the charge under new contracts – starting in May next year – despite the majority of the 8,000 respondents to the survey disagreeing, and many councillors from opposition parties highlighting reasons why they think it is a bad idea.

Hitchin Bearton ward councillor Judi Billing said after the meeting: “What a total waste of a consultation. NHDC had clearly made up its mind to charge for garden waste collection before they asked the public what they thought.

“So 85 per cent of respondents said it was a bad idea but still they decide – without a second’s reflection – to charge anyway.

“It’s a scandalous disregard and disrespect for the people we are meant to serve.”

During the meeting, points were raised about the potential increase in fly-tipping, and the problems the charge could cause for low-income households.

North Herts Liberal Democrats launched a petition for those opposed to the added charges, generating 1,081 signatures.

Chair of Royston Liberal Democrats Carol Stanier told the meeting: “All of these responses show great strength of feeling against the proposal.

“Householders had a service that they paid for with their council tax. You are now proposing to remove that service and charge them extra to have it back, with no mention of a corresponding reduction in council tax.”

The council also agreed on introducing a free weekly food waste collection, in the hope that it will encourage residents to recycle more.

Councillor Michael Weeks, NHDC’s executive member for waste, recycling and environment said: “We have listened carefully to the views of residents and we have not taken the decision lightly.

“However, the council needs to make savings of over £4 million by 2021/22 and introducing this charge will go some way to help achieve this.

“We are sure that residents will be pleased with the introduction of a weekly food waste collection service.”

The public consultation cost the council’s £5,031, the majority of which was spent on publicity leaflets.

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