Proposal for garden waste charge in Central Bedfordshire set to be abandoned, with three-weekly black bins likely to be postponed for now

A potential �40 charge for garden waste  is likely be abandoned
A potential �40 charge for garden waste is likely be abandoned

The idea of charging residents in Central Bedfordshire for garden waste looks set to be abandoned, with the introduction of three-weekly black bin collections also ditched, at least in the short term.

The controversial ideas were rubbished by many residents when we first reported on them back in February, and a recent public consultation also saw the majority of respondents reject the possible changes which had been suggested by Central Beds Council.

And the council has announced today (Wednesday) it is recommending that its Executive committee knocks a possible £40 garden waste annual charge on the head when it meets on May 10, and also leaves general waste as a fortnightly service.

Because its current bin contracts are coming to an end in 2019, the council has been looking at possible options, saying it wants to change bin collections to increase recycling, provide a consistent service across the region, and deliver best value to taxpayers.

Following the public consultation, which received over 15,000 responses, the council says it has listened to residents and is suggesting the introduction of weekly food waste collections for everyone; where possible, a choice of wheelie bin or reusable bags for fortnightly garden waste collections; and potential kerbside glass collections for all.

It stated: “The council has discarded the idea of charging for garden waste, as this was the least favoured option for residents. After listening to residents’ concerns about three-weekly black bin collections, the council is not proposing to introduce those straight away but will look to the longer term when residents have been supported to recycle as much as possible, so reducing waste in their black bin.”

Speaking about the recommendations, Councillor Budge Wells, Deputy Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “The consultation feedback has helped us set out a clear strategy for the future.

“Nearly everyone (94%) said it’s important to help people recycle as much as possible. The majority of residents were supportive of food waste collections and separate glass collections. We will be introducing these as soon as we can when the new contract is in place towards the end of next year.

“We also consulted on two other options; charging for garden waste collection, and moving to three-weekly black bin collection. Charging for garden waste collection was the least popular option, so we are not introducing this. Instead we’ll be continuing to provide a free fortnightly collection as we do now.

“Residents’ feedback showed they wanted a choice of container for their garden waste though, so we will be offering the option of a wheelie bin or two reusable bags for garden waste across the whole area.

“In terms of three-weekly black bin collections, we know that residents had some concerns about how they would manage. We’ve listened to this, and we won’t be introducing three-weekly collections immediately. We will work with residents to help them recycle as much as possible, and the new services should help with this.

“This will of course reduce the amount of waste going into residents’ black bins. That means we can move to three-weekly collections more easily, which will reduce the cost of the service and therefore make the most of tax payers’ money.”

The council’s current recycling rate is 46%. This is under the national target of 50% by 2020. Further targets of 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035 are likely to be introduced.

> For food waste collection, residents would be supplied with a lockable external food waste caddy and a smaller version to use in the kitchen, so that food waste won’t be put in domestic waste (black) bins. The council will supply bags to line the kitchen caddy for hygiene and to make it easier to transfer the contents into the larger external food waste caddy for kerbside collection, which will be collected every week.

> The government has said it will introduce a deposit return scheme in England for single-use drinks containers (whether plastic, glass or metal), subject to consultation later this year. A deposit return scheme means consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, which is redeemed on return of the empty container. The council says this could impact on the amount of glass that residents would need to have collected from the kerbside and it will need to understand the effect of this new scheme ahead of decisions on the frequency of glass collection that is required, if there is still a future need.