THE Independent and Green Group at Braintree Council has mounted a challenge against the decision to charge extra for garden waste collections.

The move will now lead to a review of the decision made by the Conservative cabinet earlier in July.

Numerous grounds for the 'call-in' were submitted, including claims the decision had not been based on proper consultation, and its potential to hit more vulnerable residents.  

There are also concerns about the possible impact on future recycling performance in the Braintree district.

Leader of the Independent and Green Group Jo Beavis said: “It is very important the council communicates with residents and consults them whenever changes are made to local services.

“In this case, we believe that has not been done.

“None of the detail we are now aware of was communicated to residents or councillors when the green bin charging proposal was discussed during the Braintree Council budget process.

“This call-in will be the first at Braintree Council for many years and reflects the understandable public interest in this issue.

“I am sure residents will want to know why they are being charged a fee for a service they already pay for via their council tax, and why that fee is planned to increase each year.

“And we all want to know why the Conservative administration at Braintree Council voted to go ahead with charging for greens bins without apparently having thought through the implications for more vulnerable members of our communities such as elderly people and those with disabilities.”

A Braintree Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the I and G Group has submitted a valid call-in notice in line with the council’s scrutiny rules as set out in the council’s constitution. 

“This notice suspends the cabinet decision of July 10 to implement the opt-in subscription garden waste collection service from March 2024, and has triggered the council’s scrutiny procedure.

“The call-in notice will be considered through the scrutiny process and once this has been concluded, we will inform residents of the outcome.”

What happens next?

An informal meeting has been called with the chairman of the corporate scrutiny committee, cabinet representatives and the councillors who submitted the call-in. 

This meeting provides an opportunity for talks between the parties to see if the issue can be resolved.

Where a resolution can be reached, the notice could be withdrawn.  

If not, the notice will go before a meeting of the corporate scrutiny committee due on July 31.

The options available to the committee are limited to requesting cabinet to reconsider its decision or not. 

The committee does not have the power to overturn, reverse or declare the cabinet decision void.

If the committee does not to ask the cabinet to reconsider, the decision to charge for the garden waste collection service from March 2024 may be implemented immediately after the meeting.

If cabinet is asked to reconsider the decision, it will do so on August 7.

The cabinet may choose whether or not to amend the decision before implementing the final decision. 

This final decision is exempt from call-in procedures.