Row over plan to cut black bin collections

BLACK bin collections could be reduced to just once a month and garden waste fees hiked from £30 to £75 under controversial plans being considered by South Gloucestershire Council.

Opposition Tories have branded the proposals, which include new charges for disposing tyres and plasterboard at tips, as “crazy and irresponsible”.

But the new Lib Dem/Labour coalition running the council says the criticism is “astonishing and rather cynical”, as the work on a new waste contract was “largely done by their previous Conservative administration”.

Changes to how the service is run are needed because the council’s 25-year deal with Suez ends in 2025.

Officers have assessed four options to replace it but every one involves a massive funding shortfall.

The cheapest, costing £330 million over 10 years, would see bin collections are outsourced to a private operator while recycling centres are brought back in-house.

This needs more than 50 extra council staff and would leave the council having to find an extra £4.7m a year to run the service.

Cabinet members were being asked to approve general principles ahead of a consultation over the summer and a final decision in October.

A report at a cross-party scrutiny commission on June 14 said having three-weekly black bin collections from 2026 would save £500,000 a year, saving a further £300,000 by going four-weekly.

Charges for disposing of “hardcore” waste, such as asbestos and tyres, at tips would bring in £500,000. Fees for collecting bulky waste could also increase.

Increases to the green bin subscription, from £30 to £50, bringing in £800,000 a year, were proposed in the Tories’ last budget but scrapped following objections.

However, these are now back on the table but officers said the garden waste charge might need to be increased to £60 or even £75 a year, and that residents would have to pay £25 for a replacement bin.

Conservative shadow cabinet member Rachael Hunt said: “We have an excellent record of prosecuting people for fly-tipping.

“These crazy and irresponsible proposals could see that record seriously jeopardised, as people try to avoid charges and deal with the accumulation of rubbish they’ll see when their bins aren’t emptied as regularly.”

Labour cabinet member for communities and local place Leigh Ingham said: “It is astonishing, and rather cynical, that the Conservatives seemingly appear surprised by the proposals as the work on this project which was largely done by their previous Conservative administration.”

“This new administration believes in listening to the people of South Gloucestershire and we don’t want to prejudge the findings of meaningful engagement activities with residents which will be taking place over the summer.

“The new Lib Dem and Labour partnership administration has inherited incomplete plans for £40m of cuts to be delivered over the next four years.”

Officers said “awkward” waste, such as nappies, clinical and sharp objects, would be collected more frequently than black bin rubbish under the proposals and that there was plenty of time to talk to residents and explain why the changes were needed.

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service