Huntingdonshire households send back green bins

HDC Bins

HDC Bins - Credit: Archant

A COUNCILLOR plans to ask for a rethink over the introduction of a charge for emptying additional green bins.

From July, households will have to pay Conservative-controlled Huntingdonshire District Council £40 if they want to continue with the service. A council spokesman said about 2,600 households out of 8,500 had so far returned their second green bin.

But Lib Dem Cllr Steve Greenall, who represents Huntingdon East, says he will ask for the policy to be taken “back to the drawing board” after being contacted by disgruntled people who live in his ward.

“In the three years I have been a district councillor, no other issue has created such a row,” he said.

“There’s not enough, at any level of politics, of politicians saying ‘We might have made a mistake here’. We do need to find savings, cuts or additional revenue to balance the books.

“But I don’t think, with the speed this has gone through, all of us considered the individual implications on the people most affected.”

Elderly people who had two green bins because they found one difficult to move when full would be affected, said Cllr Greenall.

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He added that he struggled with the principle of introducing a charge for garden waste on top of an increase in Council Tax and other austerity measures.

The policy, he said, had been scrutinised by two panels of councillors, including Tory members, both of which expressed concerns.

Cllr Greenall intends to ask for a rethink at the next full council meeting on June 26.

A report by Eric Kendell, HDC’s head of operations, compiled for councillors in October last year, warned that charging for a second bin could result in 40 per cent drop-out rate. But even if it did, the council would still make £190,000, minus the admin costs and the salary of the person who would need to be employed to administer the change.

Cllr Darren Tysoe, cabinet member for the environment, said: “We came to this decision with a heavy heart. We have to find savings across the council.

“We saved about £8m a year but still need to find another £2m.”

He said other councils, about a quarter, charged for collecting all garden waste, which HDC wanted to avoid in Huntingdonshire.

“We decided to give everyone a standard service for one bin and charge a small fee to collect extra waste. If we didn’t have the legacy of giving out green bins almost on demand I don’t think it would be an issue.”