The public has expressed strong reservations about the possibility of Central Beds Council introducing three-weekly black bin collections or a £40 annual garden waste charge.
The council’s public consultation ended on Friday, but preliminary results collated a little before the closing date have shown a resistance to the two most controversial ideas that were put forward.
About 14,000 survey responses were received and on the issue of switching general waste pick-up from fortnightly to three-weekly, 44% strongly disagreed, 13% disagreed, 6% gave no preference, 21% agreed, and 16% strongly agreed.
Regarding the suggested garden waste charge, 41% strongly disagreed, 16% disagreed, 11% gave no preference, 22% agreed, and 10% strongly agreed.
The council’s sustainable communities overview & scrutiny committee will discuss the findings on Tuesday morning (April 24), and report their views to the Executive which will meet on May 10 to make a decision on the best way forward.
As well as the two ideas which have drawn substantial criticism, some of the options being mooted could see new services introduced, such as for food waste and glass, while others suggest changes to the current arrangements for recycling, including separating paper/cardboard.
A council report states: “Interim consultation results suggest that the public are supportive of enhanced recycling with a preference for food waste collections and separate paper/card recycling services.
“Opinions on both three-weekly residual (black bin) collections or chargeable garden waste services are less positive, however such views would be influenced if mitigating factors were put in place.”
The council says the best value option would be a move to a new recycling service including separate paper and card
collection, combined with a chargeable garden waste service.
The next best value choice would be to introduce three-weekly residual black bin collections (instead of chargeable garden waste) together with separate paper and card collection and food waste collection services.
But it says not all the options are predicted to achieve the environmental performance target of 50% recyling. The option that delivers the highest recycling rate includes food waste collection together with separate glass collection and three-weekly black bins (57%).
The report adds: “Participants reiterated the need for education and feedback to help encourage recycling. If a significant
education and information campaign accompanied the changes to bin collection, it could help reduce some people’s concerns and support people to recycle more.
“However, for some people a change to a three-weekly collection and/or removal of free garden waste collection represent lines in the sand that they do not want crossed and there is not much that could reduce their opposition or concerns.”
The council has been at pains to point out that at this stage they are merely seeking residents’ opinions on potential new arrangements and that this is a “genuine” consultation.
Currently only 17 out of 369 district and unitary authorities responsible for waste collection have moved to a three-weekly operation for general rubbish. Rather more councils (30%) now charge for garden waste collections.
CBC says bin collections are one of the most expensive services the council provides: the council currently spends £14million a year on collecting and disposing of waste from over 118,000 households. That amounts to around 7% of the council’s budget, or 9% of residents’ council tax.
Because the current bin contracts are about to come to an end, the council is seeking ways to reduce the cost of the service; increase efficiencies; and increase recycling levels.
The options consulted on could save the council over £2million every year, which it says is money it can invest in other vital services, such as those for vulnerable adults and children.
The council’s Executive will consider all of the public feedback at its meeting on May 10. Any changes would be implemented in autumn 2019.