Members of the Stratford District Council have approved an annual £40 fee for the removal of garden waste through the use of green bins.
At a meeting on Monday 15 December 2019, Stratford District Council voted by 17 votes to 13 to introduce a £40 charge per year for garden waste to be removed from green bins.
The charge will be introduced from June 1, 2020. Residents can get a 12.5 per cent or £5 (first year) reduction, but only if the household subscribes before May 1, 2020. A direct debit scheme will not be offered due to the administration costs involved.
Cllr Ian Shenton, the portfolio holder for operations, said: "There are many incorrect and misleading statements being made but the simple truth is that for the equivalent of 80p per week we will turn up at your door, pick up your bin, empty it and replace it where we found it and come back two weeks later in rain or shine and do this all over again.
"This is excellent value and means that the cost is borne by those who have gardens/green waste and, obviously, if they have big gardens and need two bins they pay £80 per annum.
"If you don’t have a garden you don’t pay. If you only use half a bin then bin share with a neighbour.
"The scheme is simple and over 70% of all Councils now charge (up to £96 per bin)."
The Liberal Democrats on the council strongly objected to the plan.
Cllr Nigel Rock (Lib Dem Napton and Fenny Compton Ward) said: "This is premature. The government is considering a national scheme for green waste and is considering whether this should be funded centrally.
"Why ask residents to pay for this now, when the government could force the council to introduce a very different scheme which they might pay for?
"The whole scheme is unfair: the £40 charge may mean nothing to some people but to others, especially pensioners, it could be a major burden, but no concessions have been proposed.
"During the debate the conservatives conceded that the figure of a 60 per cent reduction in income was misleading. It seems the whole idea is put forward on a shaky basis.
"This change is a gamble based on how many people will pay to keep a bin. What will happen if only a few people in a given rural area take it up?
"The truck will still have to go and collect these odd bins - hardly economic or environmental. What happens to the unused bins – will they be collected up?"
Lib Dem Cllr for Long Itchington and Stockton, Louis Adam, said: "It’s certainly unfortunate that at the same time as the Conservatives have forced these extra charges through, they also put up councillors’ allowances, with particular emphasis on the allowances for the leader and executive, who are to receive a 27 per cent increase in their special responsibility allowances.
"I have already people contacting me pointing out that green waste is likely to be put into the wrong bin to avoid the charge, something which is clearly a problem for the environment."
Cllr Shenton countered and said: "The decision to charge is a financial one because the council has been facing reductions in the revenue support grant, which has reduced by 60 per cent from £1.12m in 2016/2017 to £0.49m in 2017/2018.
"In addition the New Homes Bonus is predicted to fall from £4.5m in 2019/20 to £nil by 2023/2024.
"It is quite clear that additional demands on finances will be made in response to the climate emergency motion passed in July by the full council (including the Lib Dems). Before the vote was taken it was made clear to everyone that there will undoubtedly be costs involved.
"It is unfortunate that the Lib Dems have chosen to vote against this proposal especially as their leader is also chair of the council’s Climate Emergency Task & Finish Group and is well aware of the initiatives and financial pressures.
"We, as the Conservative led council, must plan ahead, not bury our heads in the sand in the hope that this will go away.
"We are not afraid to make the responsible and sometimes difficult decisions and, therefore, it was decided that we should act now to ensure that the council is in a stable financial position and more resilient to changes in central government funding.
"It is more environmentally friendly if households compost their green waste at home, but the service will be there for those that do want to subscribe.
"However, whilst there may be green benefits this is a financially driven decision and we are not hiding from that fact."