In September I sent five key questions to the Labour-run Council about their new garden waste charges. The council failed to answer my questions in the required 10 days. Having escalated this issue, I am now able to confirm their delayed reply to my queries, which I include below.
I am disappointed by Labour’s responses to my questions, which I believe do little to address the issues I raised. The Lib Dems will continue to press the Labour-run Council to listen to residents and their concerns about this new green waste charge.
Veolia have since confirmed to me on the phone that green waste collection will continue until the 30th November due to issues in the botched roll-out of this scheme.
We will keep you updated on whether the hessian sacks can be retained or not, and any further updates on the issue. The responses to my questions are as follows:
Lib Dem Q: Why can’t residents continue using the hessian sacks?
Labour A: Officers are working with Veolia to assess the viability of maintaining the hessian sacks in some capacity alongside the wheeled bins and biodegradable bags. There are, however, a number of operational challenges that this further option would present including an impact on the savings identified.
Lib Dem Q: Shouldn’t the council have made residents aware of the £55 a year bag option in their leaflet to residents?
Labour A: When residents called Veolia to sign up for the service the offer of a smaller bin or sacks was always available. Following the initial communications, we have listened to feedback from residents and have since made it clearer that other options are available. The alternative options are now highlighted on our website.
Lib Dem Q: Shouldn’t a Labour-run council be offering a reduced cost service to pensioners and those on low incomes?
Labour A: There are not currently any concessions planned for the chargeable waste services. It was felt that the number of pensioners, or those on low incomes, that may take up the service at a reduced cost service, would be so minimal, as to make the introduction of a concession unnecessary.
Lib Dem Q: Wouldn’t it be fairer for residents to be given the option to buy 20, 40 or 60 bags depending on how much garden waste they have?
Labour A: The service offers 60 sacks as this volume is equivalent to the wheeled bin service and has been designed to be comparable in price. The service charge is an annual charge for weekly collections rather than a price for 60 sacks (or less if residents don’t need as many as this). This means that if a resident runs out of sacks before the year’s end, they can opt to buy more sacks.
Lib Dem Q: What would the savings be if the Council maintained free garden waste collections but reduced the service to 2 weekly?
Labour A: It was felt that providing a charged, weekly green waste service maintained a level of continuity for residents who use this service. A charged, weekly service was also considered preferable than a universal fortnightly service because it targeted the residents specifically using the service as well as delivering greatest savings. A fortnightly green waste collection would also mean fortnightly collections of food waste (as the same lorry is used). This option was rejected at the time, and if weekly collections were maintained for food then it would not be possible to make operational savings on this service.
Cllr Liz Morris
Lib Dem Deputy Leader of the Opposition