Charge for green waste collections in St Albans due to coronavirus budget crisis

St Albans district council could introduce charges for green waste collection. Picture: St Albans district council

St Albans district council could introduce charges for green waste collection. Picture: St Albans district council - Credit: Archant

Homeowners face a charge for garden waste collections in response to budget constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

St Albans district council’s Cabinet will consider the proposal at its meeting on Thursday.

Under the plans, households would be asked for an annual payment of £45 to have a green wheeled bin or reusable sack emptied, the equivalent of about 87p a week.

Other local authorities across the country already charge for the service including Watford, Three Rivers, Broxbourne, North Herts and Welwyn Hatfield.

Garden waste collections by contractor Veolia cost the council around £600,000 a year.

The proposal recognises that the current “free” service only benefits households with a garden rather than those without such as people living in flats.

Moreover, residents who generate garden waste have the option of composting the material themselves rather than have the council collect it.

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Cllr Anthony Rowlands, portfolio holder for leisure, heritage and public realm, said: “It is with considerable reluctance that I will be recommending to Cabinet that we introduce this small charge.

“We have held out against it while other local authorities in Hertfordshire and beyond brought it in some time ago.

“I feel we have no option now but to fall into line with them. The impact of COVID-19 on our finances has been devastating and it means we cannot continue collecting garden waste without asking for this extra charge.

“COVID has greatly reduced our revenues - by up to £150,000 a week during the first lockdown - while increasing demand for many of our public services and thus our costs.

“The result is a projected budget gap for the next financial year which is likely to be several million pounds, requiring us to look at ways we can make savings or increase our income.

“Charging for a garden waste collection is a fair way of improving our balance sheet as the current service is discriminatory. It only benefits people who have a garden rather than those without.

“In any case, there are other ways of disposing of garden waste by having the council collect it such as composting.

“No one likes an extra bill, even a modest 87p a week, but I hope our residents will accept that this is unavoidable in the current financial climate.”

If approved by Cabinet, the charge will form part of the 2021-2 budget which will be finalised in the New Year.

As part of the plans, there will be a £5 reduction for those paying by direct debit.

Households receiving council-related benefits will be eligible for a subsidised rate of £35.

The council’s other residential waste collections will still be free of any charge additional to Council Tax.

These collections are of non-recyclables, food, paper and cardboard, small electricals and textiles as well as glass, plastic, metal and other mixed recycling.