Amber Valley Borough Councillors are considering reintroducing an annual charge for the Council’s garden waste service. If approved then the charge would be applicable from March 2017. This is contrary to election pledges made before the May election.
The proposal is another cost cutting exercise due to the fact that the brown bin service costs £350,000 per year and council budgets have been slashed repeatedly by the Treasury, most recently by impact of two decisions in George Osborne’s last budget – firstly to decentralise funding and make councils dependent on business taxes and secondly to remove the majority of that potential funding with a tax waiver for small businesses, which the majority in areas like Amber Valley are.
The garden waste service has been free to users since 2013, when a £40 fee was dropped, but it has now been recommended that the fee be reintroduced as part of measures to address the Council’s budget shortfall. The service would only continue if income from customers covered its whole cost. And as this is “part of measures”, we can be sure that there will be others.
If Councillors approve the proposal at the full council meeting on 13th July, all existing users of the service will be contacted to see if they want to return their bin or pay £40 per year. There are a number of Amber Valley residents who have been unable to use the service because it was fully subscribed within the limits of its funding and they would also now have the chance to join, with an initial one-off payment of £20 to cover the supply and delivery of a bin and then the £40 annual fee. Previous to this there was only a £10 deposit on the brown bin itself but no new users could sign up.
Cllr Chris Short, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environment said: “The reintroduction of the charge has been made necessary by the scale of the savings the Council needs to make. We need to deal with a complete withdrawal of Government funding of £2.3 million per year by 2020/21 when we already have a budget deficit from previous annual reductions. Knowing how much residents value the service we didn’t want to just stop it and therefore the only option was to make sure it pays for itself, through a fee. “