BRAINTREE Council has confirmed the “difficult decision” to introduce a charge for collecting garden waste, after councillors agreed the proposals at a Cabinet meeting on Monday evening.

The council has been looking into the possibility of adding a charge for green bin collections in the district for the last several months.

It has previously cited factors such as inflation, the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis as reasons for the proposal.

“In the current economic climate and with council budgets under significant pressure, the cost of the current service at £683k is no longer affordable or sustainable”, a council spokesman said.

They added: “The existing service is disproportionate as it is funded by Council taxpayers irrespective of whether or not they use the service.

“Introducing a charge ensures only those who use the service pay for it and this is seen as a fairer way of providing the service.”

The new service will start week commencing March 4, 2024 and in the first year the subscription will cover a 13-month period until end March 2025. 

Thereafter each subscription year will cover a 12-month period from April to March.  

Collections will be every fortnight throughout the year apart from the week before and the week after Christmas, compared to the current service which is suspended for three months over the winter period.   

The subscription fee for 2024/25 will be £55 per annum, but residents who sign up by November 30 can benefit from a 50 per cent early bird discount, bringing the cost down to £27.50 which equates to just £1 per collection in the first year.

Additional bins are available for an extra charge.   

Residents will be able to register interest in signing up to the service from July 21.

Those who have subscribed to the service will receive a sticker to put on their bin and the crews will have handheld devices to check that the property has paid for the service.

Bins not displaying the sticker will not be emptied.  

For properties which do not have bins, garden waste will only be collected in bio-degradable sacks available from the council at a cost of £8 per roll of 20 sacks, which also includes the cost of delivery and the collections.

Residents will be able to purchase rolls of sacks using an online form on the Council’s website. 

Braintree Council environment and customer services boss Tom Cunningham said: “Every council in the country is having to make difficult decisions about what it can afford to do and 70 per cent of councils nationwide, including nine across Essex, have already moved to a subscription model for garden waste.

“Not every resident is fortunate enough to have a garden and some prefer to compost at home, so it is fair to ask those who want their waste collected by us, to pay for that service.

“We are keen to maintain a garden waste collection to residents, however, the only way this can be achieved is to recover the cost of the collections. 

“If residents don’t want to pay for the service, they can dispose of their garden waste by taking it to their nearest Essex County Council’s Recycling Centre.

“Better still I hope this encourages people to think about composting at home.” 

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