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Garden waste charge will help protect essential services, says senior councillor

St Helens Council’s cabinet has today (Wednesday 29 March) approved proposals to introduce a charge to its non-statutory green bin collection service as it looks to make savings of £7.4m for the 2017/18 financial year in order to protect essential services.

Starting from Monday 5 June, 2017, a charge of £35 a year (£1.75 per collection) – or £30 (£1.50 per collection) when ordered online – will apply to registered residents for the bi-weekly collection of their garden waste which currently costs the council £931,000 per annum in operational costs.

Justifying the proposal at this afternoon’s cabinet meeting, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for green, smart and sustainable borough, Seve Gomez-Aspron, said:

“Almost half of all councils in the UK now charge for green waste collection, which is not covered by Council Tax, and the majority of others are considering introducing a charge.

“We have provided this free service for as long as we can. It is one of the services specifically not covered by legislation. We have covered it under permissive powers, but as a direct result of austerity, like many other local authorities facing significant funding cuts, the council can no longer afford to provide this level of extra service.

“We recently had to put Council Tax up, but even that doesn’t that doesn’t bring in enough money to cover Government cuts, and so services are lost. Like you, I don’t like that either, but that’s what austerity is.

“The council is faced with identifying the least worst options. All of the options are poor, but have been forced on us by the reduction in national funding.

“The only options would be to start charging for green waste collections for the cost of the service, to scrap the service altogether, or to cut a further £931,000 from statutory services such as protecting vulnerable people and roads maintenance.

“This is what the Government’s austerity currently feels like. It is a sustained attack on local government finances.”

Residents who subscribe will be provided with a licence sticker to attach to their green bin to identify that they have paid for the service.

Households who choose not to subscribe to the scheme are advised to make their own alternative disposal arrangements, whether that is through any free Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC’s), or by home composting. Brown general waste bins found to contain garden waste will not be emptied.

Surplus green bins can be are kept for possible use as storage.

Council officers will monitor fly tipping incidents on a regular basis and if there is a rise in any areas, increased monitoring could take place to deal with the situation.

Councillor Gomez-Aspron added: “The introduction of this charge, which works out at £1.50 per collection if done online, does not excuse the criminal act of fly tipping. Our waste centres are free to access and garden waste can be taken there if required. If you have a van, free permits are available online from MerseyWaste”

The Subscription period will run from 5 June 2017 until the end of May 2018 with a winter break during December, January and February when no collections will take place. Residents who sign up to the service will be required to renew their subscription annually.

Full details will be provided to residents within an information booklet which is to be delivered to households next month, with distribution starting on Monday 24 April.

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