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Cabinet gives go-ahead for 'brown bin' charge

The proposal to introduce an annual charge for the "brown bin" service has been given the go-ahead by Fenland District Council's Cabinet.

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 It will come into force next April for residents who want to continue to have their garden waste collected.

At their meeting on Thursday (October 20) Cabinet members agreed to set the initial annual charge at £40 per bin. There will be a 10 per cent reduction for "Early Bird" customers who pay online by annual direct debit between December 1 and January 10. There will also be an option to pay in instalments.

The move is expected to save the council about £500,000 a year.

Councillor Peter Murphy, the portfolio holder for the environment, said the introduction of a "self-funding" garden waste service had been identified as part of the council's overall Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and formed part of its medium-term financial strategy.

The council faced a further £2 million of savings over the next three years, having already saved £8 million since 2010. The "low-hanging fruit" had already gone, he said.

He added that Fenland was not the first authority in the region to introduce a charge. "In fact, over 50 per cent of the waste collection authorities in East Anglia already charge for a garden waste service. We have used the experience of these authorities to develop the best offer possible for our customers."

He said: "The proposed new service is based on a reasonable subscription per bin to cover collection costs only. The charge developed for this first year is £40 per bin, per year. It is intended that this charge is reviewed annually and reflects ongoing running costs."

Cllr Murphy acknowledged that a number of concerns had been raised in the recent consultation, such as the ability to pay, the fairness of a charge, the impact on Household Recycling Sites, fly-tipping and food waste collection.

"We have sought to mitigate these concerns as much as reasonably possible," he said.

"From the 43,000 properties we serve, more than 12,000 customers responded to our consultation. The overall theme of the comments was that customers would prefer us not to introduce a charge. However, customers responded that if we did introduce a charge, 60 per cent would pay to continue to receive the service."

Article added October 21, 2016