Postcode lottery on whether you’ll be charged for green waste collection

Should councils charge for the green waste removal service?

Should councils charge for the green waste removal service?

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To bin or not to bin? That is the question across the county as residents grapple with the green charges postcode lottery.

For very soon where you live in Lancashire will dictate whether you will have to pay to have your garden waste taken away by your local council.

Preston, Wyre and Lancaster councils are set to introduce a £30 annual charges for collecting the compostable waste in 2016/17.

But elsewhere in the county, from Chorley and Fylde to South Ribble and Hyndburn, the district council collections will continue as usual, with residents able to put out their garden waste for collection and recycling for free.

The charges are being introduced against a background of widespread cuts to funding for local and county government.

But - and this is a question set to vex Council Tax payers - Preston, Lancaster and Wyre have decided to start charging for green waste removal as a cost cutting measure ahead of the withdrawal of county council funding in 2018 for its share of the recycling service.

Coun John Swindells

Coun John Swindells

Coun John Swindells, Deputy Leader of Preston Council said: “It’s literally the budget situation we are in at the moment. It’s a real challenge on everything..this is one thing we legally don’t have to do. So it’s either lose it completely or bring in a charge for it.”

He added that the council had been shocked to learn that following the autumn settlement it would have to make an extra £4m of cuts by 2020. Preston Council will introduce its charge on July 4.

In Lancaster, where the council will introduce its charge in August, councillors say the charge will bring in £870,000 in a year.

In Wyre, where the charges take effect on May 1, a spokesman said: “Lancashire County Council’s funding towards the recycling service was reduced in 2013 and although it doesn’t come to a complete end until 2018, we need to take action now to mitigate the impact of losing almost £1m a year.”

Wyre Council's bin for green waste removal

Wyre Council's bin for green waste removal

In Chorley council leader Coun Alistair Bradley said said the council did not have a need to charge at the moment because it chose to raise income rather than make cuts: “In Chorley we are doing other things to get money as opposed to cutting costs e.g. we acquired the shopping centre a couple of years ago - that makes a healthy profit.”

In Ribble Valley Council leader Coun Stuart Hirst said: “We have a balanced budget which is sustainable. It is one of our flagship services ... it’s all in house, we don’t contract it. We shall not be charging in the forthcoming financial year for green waste (removal).”

But he admitted the council may have to look at charging in the future, particularly in 2018 when the county council cuts bite.

Meanwhile in Fylde a council spokesman said: “We are not charging. We have no proposals to charge - we recognise that people already pay their Council Tax and so they already pay for their bins to be taken away fortnightly.”

Coun David Henderson, cabinet member with responsibility for recycling at Wyre Council, said: “Garden waste collections have been provided across Wyre without charge since 1999 however it is now necessary that we join other local authorities up and down the country in charging in order to keep the service running. Despite requests to reconsider or scale down the withdrawal of funding to lessen the impact on the districts in the county, the decision has been made and we now have to mitigate that impact.”

IA spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “In the early days of recycling when district councils were introducing doorstep collections and we were trying to encourage more recycling we agreed to help them by sharing the cost of bringing in the new collections. The agreement, under which the county council still pays around £10m a year to district councils, was originally made for 10 years and was extended in 2014 for a further 4 years until 2018.

As recycling collections are now well established the cost-sharing agreement will come to an end in 2018.”

Those who choose not to subscribe to the charged for service will have to deal with their garden waste in other ways with councils urging them to consider composting.

•In another change the County Council is stopping processing housesholder’s food waste. This will mean that foodwaste can no longer be placed in green waste bins from April.

* If your green waste is collected fortnightly and the council charges £30 p.a. the cost of each collection will be £1.36

* How will the council know you have paid? Preston Council is providing special stickers for bins to identify those which are eligible for collection

* In Ribble Valley not only will the service be free, you can also apply for a bigger green waste bin.

* Your green waste bin could be brown,green or black with a green lid. Bin colours vary from council to council.