Date issued: 18 August 2020
Proposals for the introduction of possible garden waste charges are being recommended for rejection by Cllr Martin Goss, Portfolio Holder for Waste, after considering the Task and Finish Group’s recommendations.
The garden waste cross party Task and Finish Group was set up by Cabinet in July 2020 to review the proposed plans and further explore the five-point response to Budget Recovery, which was agreed at the June Scrutiny Panel meeting.
Since then, members of the Task and Finish Group have been working through a huge amount of technical and financial information to enable a forensic review of the plans and overall budget situation. The Group’s recommendations will be presented at a special Cabinet meeting tomorrow (19 August 2020).
Cllr Martin Goss, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Waste, Environment and Transportation, said: “The decision whether to charge for garden waste collections was never going to be easy and, as I have said publicly, I have disliked even having to consider looking at it. Personally, it is the last thing I would want to see invoked.
“However, as we have a budget gap of £2m this year and £3.5m next year, and future years, it was right that we looked into the possibility and I would like to thank the Task and Finish Group and council officers for the immense amount of work they have done in a very short time period. I feel it is right not to proceed at this time, especially without cross party consensus, and will be recommending that the plans are rejected at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting.”
Cllr David King, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources thanked the Task and Finish Group for their work and added: “Government has not kept its promise of fully reimbursing councils for extra costs and loss of income through this huge health and now economic crisis. That means we are facing a funding black-hole not of our making.
“We will continue to lobby the Government to ensure they make good on their promise. We will identify the best way to close this gap. We will continue to look at everything that we do to find what helps reduce the challenge. This includes reviewing our strategic priorities, to maximise our commercial potential, drive efficiency in the way we work, looking at our service provision and exploring community relationships. Garden waste charges are an example of raising income for a service many Councils charge for elsewhere as a discretionary service. Not proceeding now with that charge increases the pressure to find further savings, to include reducing jobs or to increase income in later years.
“We can use our reserves to help ease the funding gap we are facing now, before we look again, at what we need to do. Once reserves are used, we can’t use it again and difficult choices still lie ahead.”