Fee for garden waste collection planned in Stafford
Residents could face a charge for garden waste collections as Stafford Borough Council looks to balance its books in the coming years.
A £36 annual fee for collecting garden waste, which could come into force in 2021, is to be considered by the authority as part of changes to the recycling and waste service it provides to residents.
The council says that collecting garden waste is not a statutory service and that more than 60 per cent of local authorities across the country already charge residents to have grass cuttings removed.
Currently the brown garden waste bin is collected fortnightly alongside the blue recycling bin.
Other proposals include introducing a new blue bag for paper and cardboard waste and removing several several mini-recycling sites across the borough, which the council says have become dumping grounds for fly tipping. These sites were opened before the kerbside recycling service was introduced.
The proposed changes to the waste and recycling service could save more than £1 million, according to the authority.
In November 2018 Stafford Borough Council was told it faced a “middle ground” predicted funding shortfall of £783,000 in 2021/22.
But a year on the authority is facing a potential £1.5m deficit in 2022, in the wake of proposed changes to the funding provided by central government.
And the final accounts for 2018/19 revealed it had received £1.2m less than expected from a business rates retention scheme.
Stafford Borough Council’s cabinet is due to consider the proposed recycling and waste service changes at its next meeting on November 7.
The proposals will form part of the authority’s Climate Change Emergency strategy and are said to be better for the environment.
Stafford Borough Council declared a climate emergency in July and is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2040.
A report set to be presented to the November cabinet meeting will say: “There is an ever increasing focus on ensuring that recyclate collected is of high quality (and) residents are increasingly questioning the end destination of recycling.”
Residents are currently asked to place cardboard in their mixed recycling blue bins, but it can be contaminated by other materials such as glass, which reduces its quality for selling on, the council has said.
Cardboard and paper collected in the new blue bag would remain in the UK for processing.
Councillor Jonathan Price, cabinet member for environment, said: “The blue bag option will give local people more confidence in how materials are collected in the borough and should result in a positive impact on the quality of our recycling.
“We have had an excellent reputation for the way we have managed our budget and protected frontline services to the public despite the reductions in grants year on year from central government.
“Garden waste collection is not something we have to provide by law, but we want to continue to offer this service and that will require us falling in line with most councils in the country and, unfortunately, charging for it.”
“Put bluntly, these changes are necessary if we are to balance our budgets in years to come without axing services our residents and businesses rely on.”