Charge for bin collections? ‘Rubbish’ says Hitchin Labour politician as she slams ‘not fit for purpose’ council

Labour councillor Elizabeth Dennis has slammed Tories

Labour councillor Elizabeth Dennis has slammed Tories - Credit: Archant

Plans by North Herts District Council to start charging for the removal of brown bins have left a nasty smell – with a Labour councillor slamming the proposals as “rubbish”.

North Herts District Council is considering charging for the brown bin service

North Herts District Council is considering charging for the brown bin service - Credit: Archant

Councillor Elizabeth Dennis has responded to the furore created after the Comet reported that the council is mooting the idea of levying a specific fee on taxpayers to collect their compost and detritus gathered from lawns and flowerbeds across the district.

Working alongside East Herts District Council, the authority is drawing up a joint contract for waste and recycling in a bid to reduce the cost of providing these services.

A new contract is set to be awarded in October and to commence in May 2018 – and the council is quizzing residents on their views.

In the online survey released on Monday, residents are asked whether they would consider a ‘chargeable garden waste service’ and, if so, whether they would be willing to anything from £40 to £70 per year for the service.

Ms Dennis – who is the shadow cabinet member for waste, recycling and green issues – has smelled a rat with the proposed scheme.

She said: “The council’s consultation on a new waste contract seems to have got everyone talking – as well it should, as this service takes the biggest part of the council’s budget. It comes with serious health and environmental considerations, so it’s vital we get it right.

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“The decision to include charging for garden waste as an option in the contract really is rubbish. Labour councillors absolutely oppose this.

“This proposal is based on the idea that if the council doesn’t have to provide a service by law, then it shouldn’t provide it at all. We don’t think that’s right.

“We’ve seen this attitude threaten our community centres and playgrounds. If, under Conservative control, the council keeps stripping away services and facilities, then really what value is it bringing to our community? Is it fit for purpose?”

It currently costs the district council about £150,000 a year to collect garden waste, and £65 per tonne to process.

The council told the Comet last week that although they do not wish to stop this service, it has no legal obligation to collect garden waste.

Ms Dennis added: “At a briefing on the new contract, councillors were given the impression this was more than a mere ‘option’, and we’re extremely concerned.

“The council has told us it’s looking at charging £26 a year for 26 fortnightly collections, costing £1 each collection.

“There’s no flexibility with this proposed service, so if residents want their garden waste collected they’ll be expected to pay the full annual charge – even if they’ll only need it on an occasional basis.

“The proposed charge shared with councillors of £26 may seem low – but to many local families, with ever increasing bills, this is an expense too far. “More concerning is the fact this figure varies to wildly from those in the consultation, where residents are asked to consider if they’d pay ‘up to £40’, or even ‘up to £70 a year’. So, we have to ask, why are councillors told one figure and residents asked to consider another?”