Charge for garden waste gets council backing

Good value' £52 charge for bin collection approved

A proposal to charge households £52 for collection of garden waste has been backed by councillors.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s communities cabinet advisory board voted six against two [with two abstentions] in favour of their waste collection programme.

If, as now seems likely, the authority’s Cabinet agrees in a meeting on August 30, the new contract would be on track to begin on March 30 next year as part of an agreement which would last at least eight years.

It would also introduce a kerbside collection service for glass bottles and jars as well as a separate weekly collection of food waste. But it was the proposed charge for garden waste collection that divided councillors.

During questions from members, Gary Stevenson, the council’s Head of Environment, said the £52 fee would not necessarily be fixed throughout the eight years and could change as through the tenure.

He also said the colour of the new bin [provided within the £52 fee] had not been decided and it would be possible for neighbours to share one.

Residents would need to opt-in for the service and 30 per cent of households are expected to do so. The collection would be made bi-weekly.

A contract is set to be awarded later this year. The council is not yet able to state the identity of the winning bidder. The council would enter into partnership with Kent County Council and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council under the scheme.

Liberal Democrat member for St John’s Cllr Mark Ellis and Labour member for Southborough & High Brooms Cllr Dianne Hill – the board’s only two non-Conservative members – voted against. Tory Cllr James Scholes [Pantiles & St Mark’s] and colleague Cllr Patrick Thomson [Hawkhurst & Sandhust] were those to abstain.

Cllr Hill said: “It is great to see the glass collection but I do struggle with the charge for garden waste. It was mooted it would cost around £30, but £52 seems excessive and nobody [I have consulted] seems in favour.”

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