Tonbridge's new garden waste charge could be scrapped
by Andy Tong | 7th March 2019
THE future of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council's controversial new charge to collect garden waste hangs in the balance after central government announced it was considering ending the levy nationwide.
A new Waste Services Contract started across Tonbridge & Malling on Friday March 1, which includes an opt-in charge of £40 a year for residents who want to have their garden waste collected.
The offer, which will initially be discounted to £35, is set to begin on September 30 alongside other new features, such as kerbside plastic collection, after the new contracted refuse company Urbaser have completed the necessary logistical changes.
Such a charge has not been imposed before, and the council anticipates that it will save them more than £750, 000 a year based on an uptake of 30 to 40 per cent.
But on February 18 the government announced plans for a series of consultations ‘to overhaul the waste system’.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove mooted that garden waste could be collected free of charge, with councils reimbursed for the revenue shortfall.
Robert Styles, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s Director for Street Scene, Leisure & Technical Services, said: “The government launched a series of 12-week consultations relating to its Resources and Waste Strategy published last December.
“Government is asking for views on several recycling and waste-related matters, including the provision of weekly food waste, glass and free garden waste collections.
“We will be responding to the consultations and keep under review any changes in guidance or legislation that may be forthcoming as the strategy is finalised.
“In the meantime we will continue with the planned introduction of our new recycling and waste contract.
The Leader of the council, Nicolas Heslop, welcomed the new proposals, but warned that with more than 53 per cent of local authorities now charging for green waste, ‘any such consideration would be subject to significant financial implications’.
The council has justified the decision to start charging for green waste because the revenue will allow it to expand its kerbside collections to include plastics, cartons, cans and glass, and offer a separate weekly food waste collection.
It is one of only three councils in the UK not to offer plastic recycling, along with the Isles of Scilly and Rotherham.
Residents can sign up to receive the ‘early bird’ offer from May 7 at tmbc.gov.uk/recycleforall.
A series of roadshows will be held across the borough to publicise the changes, starting on Saturday March 23 at the Big Bridge in Tonbridge from 9.30am to 2.30pm.