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Garden waste collection gets unanimous OK

Boston borough's kerbside garden waste collection service will resume in the spring after councillors voted unanimously for it to continue at an annual charge of £30.

A meeting of the full borough council on Monday heard that councils do not have to provide the service as part of normal council tax obligations. It is an extra service for which most councils now levy a charge.

It was agreed there should be a yearly charge of £30 for the first bin to be emptied and £15 for extra bins.

Residents who want the service should do nothing yet. All households will be receiving a letter advising them of the new scheme and giving instructions about how to sign up for it and pay.

Those who register and pay will receive a unique sticker for their brown bin to indicate which ones require emptying.

Cllr Michael Brookes, deputy leader and the portfolio holder for waste services, said he would look into the possibility of buying back brown wheelie bins purchased this financial year and setting up a trading system for older bins where residents no longer wanted the service.

Kerbside garden waste collections were introduced in 2012 as a free service, the only cost being purchase of a brown wheelie bin.

The service proved extremely popular, with 15,500 households receiving it.

Cllr Brookes said it had diverted thousands of tonnes of waste from landfill to be composted. He said he was sorry that a charge now had to be introduced, but this was because of austerity measures and a forecast budget shortfall next year of £543,000. The service costs £275,000 a year.

He said there were also 12,500 households who did not want the service who were currently helping pay for it through their council tax.

Public consultation showed an overwhelming desire to retain the service with 87.5 per cent of those who responded saying they were prepared to pay for it. In order for the public consultation to receive a genuinely informed view for the size of households currently receiving the service - 15,500 - at least 375 responses were required. There were 1,461 received.

Fortnightly collections will be made from the beginning of March to early December - more than currently available.

Cllr Paul Gleeson said the council found itself between a rock and a hard place. He said £30 was not an excessive charge when you considered the cost of going to the dump. He said: "if we don't get £300,000 a year from this we have to get it from somewhere else."

He said the council should buy back brown bins from those who might decide not to opt for the paid service but purchased a brown bin this financial year, in anticipation of collection continuing to be free.

He said the council should also facilitate those with older bins who wanted to sell to others joining the service.

Cllr Alison Austin said it was a discretionary service and the council had to be realistic about its financial situation. She said only one resident had told her they would not take the paid-for service.

Cllr Brian Rush said it was a great service.

Cllr Brookes said it would cost £65,000 a year to administer the new paid-for service Residents have been urged not to be tempted to put garden waste into their green bin (household waste taken to the Energy from Waste plant near Lincoln, no longer sent to landfill) or their blue bin for recycled materials. This would contaminate the load and the bins will not be emptied.

Those with garden waste who opt not to use the new garden waste service can home compost or, as they can currently, take their garden waste to the tip at Slippery Gowt where it can be properly and environmentally disposed of for free.