Barnet Post

Barnet Post

Garden waste charges deemed successful by council

Charging residents for garden waste has helped council rake in over £2m

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Paid-for garden waste collections have been “very well received” and boosted council coffers by more than £2million, town hall bosses have claimed.

The £70-a-year subscription service for green bin rounds introduced in Barnet had the highest take-up rate among London boroughs during its first year, based on the information available to the council.

Before the charges were rolled out in April 2020, more than 80% of the 6,500 people who responded to a council consultation said they were opposed to the move, with only 12.3% in favour.

A report presented to Barnet Council's environment committee on Monday reveals 56% of previous users took up the paid-for service during the first year, climbing to almost 59% during the second year. This has resulted in investment into the service and saved the council £2.1m.

Craig Miller, the council’s street scene director, told the meeting: “I am pleased to report that the service has been very well received by residents since we first started communicating it to residents back in February [2020].”

He added: “We have the highest take-up rate in London based on the information we have managed to get.”

But Labour’s Geof Cooke disputed the council's claims. He said: “I take issue with the notion that the service has been well received. That is not my experience. It still comes up on the doorstep as a complaint, and people do resent the idea that they have to pay for a service that used to be free.”

Geof said he thought it was recognised that with the “year-on-year reductions of financial support from national government, and a cap on an increase in council tax”, that “this is the way councils have of getting more money out of residents”.

He said the only choices available to residents were to pay someone else to collect garden waste, take it to a recycling centre, or fly-tip – which would be illegal – so paying the council to take the waste away was “the least of those evils”.

The council report states that there has not been “any notable increase in garden waste collected as fly-tipping”, which was one of the concerns raised when the charges were first proposed.

Craig admitted there had been “teething problems” during the first year of the service, with some stickers getting lost in the post, but claimed the council had learnt from the setbacks and made improvements. He said that during September and October there were 160 and 165 missed collections out of around 88,000.