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Garden waste collection subscription service will go ahead in South Hams as Councillor says residents will "feel cheated by the council after having paid for a service that has not been delivered".
South Hams District Council has agreed that residents wanting to have garden waste collections should be charged for the service from spring 2023, with the current service to end on 31 October 2022.
John Birch, South Hams District Councillor for Totnes, said: "With over 200,000 missed brown bin collections since April the SHDC administration has decided to add to the misery by not only cancelling the collection service during the Autumn and Winter but when its reintroduced next Spring residents will have to pay a charge for the service.
"At yesterday's SHDC meeting I and other Lib Dem councillors sought to convince other SHDC councillors that such a move was wrong especially as council taxpayers had already paid for their brown bins to be collected.
"At the meeting I made the point that by cancelling the brown bin collection residents would quite rightly feel cheated.
"Unfortunately we were voted down and the brown bin collection will cease yet again. I am sure residents will feel cheated by the Council after having paid for a service that has not been delivered."
Against the backdrop of rising costs, the Full Council came to the decision on Thursday, 22 September, to cease the existing service and launch a paid subscription service next spring. The vote was 22 in favour, seven against.
The council has been looking at every option to ensure that the core waste and recycling collection service can remain as smooth as possible when it comes back in-house on 3 October.
The council will inherit increased operating costs and must contend with inflation in the price of fuel and wages, as well the need for additional resources. Introducing a charge for the garden waste collections – a discretionary service, not a statutory one – will ease the overall cost pressures on the Council.
As well as easing financial pressures, ceasing the service from 31 October will also ease pressure on the core waste and recycling collections, helping to keep those as stable as possible in the early months of the transition. The council will ensure that all households will get their brown bins emptied on or around their last scheduled collection day before the service is ceased.
For many years the council had been able to provide the garden waste service without charging a subscription fee but doing so from spring 2023 will bring them in line with most other districts in Devon, who already charge for garden waste collections. Plymouth City Council recently took the decision to end their garden waste collections early this year to ease their own budget pressures.
Cllr Keith Baldry, South Hams Executive Member for the Environment, said: “Since the proposal about halting the current garden waste service and replacing it with a subscription service in the spring first came to the table, it has been one carefully considered, deliberated, and debated. We know that nobody will want to pay a subscription fee for the service, but the inescapable truth is that rising costs have forced our hand.
“Ultimately, we must protect our core statutory services. Ceasing the collections over the winter will help us do that as we transition to an in-house waste collection service.
“Compared to what private companies charge for collections, that fee represents good value for money. The subscription fees will purely cover the cost of the service and there will be no profit made. We will provide residents with information in due course on how they can sign up and subscribe for the service.”
Residents can also expect to receive a letter explaining the changes in the coming days.
During the debate, residents were encouraged to compost their garden waste. People can find out more on home composting possibilities here: www.recycledevon.org/in-the-garden/how-to-compost
For those who decide to not sign up for the service, they can take their garden waste to all three recycling centres in the South Hams. Full details, including opening hours, are available online here: www.devon.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/centre/
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