Date issued: 29 June 2020
Proposals for a new options-based garden waste service are being published by Colchester Borough Council. The new proposals give residents choice, while accepting a paid-for subscription service is needed as the council balances tough Covid financial pressures.
Councillors will consider the report at a Scrutiny Panel meeting, on Tuesday 7 July, and at Cabinet on Wednesday 8 July.The report sets out plans to launch a Garden Club in October this year to begin a whole new subscription service for garden waste, with fortnightly collections until the end of March 2021 for Season 1. There would be an introductory offer price of £25 for each brown wheelie bin and membership to the Garden Club services. Subscription would be open to residents that currently receive a kerbside collection for garden waste.
The first full-year Garden Club scheme would begin in April 2021 and run for a calendar year (until March 2022). Collections would remain as fortnightly and the renewal charge for the 12-month scheme would be £50, meaning membership remains at less than £1 a week. New Garden Club members would also benefit from the ‘early bird’ offer of a half-price set-up cost in April 2021, at £12.50 (normally £25) and concession rates would be available.
To ensure Garden Club collections are efficient and reduce musculoskeletal injuries suffered by staff collecting the waste, the subscription would be for one 240-litre brown wheelie bin. Residents can add additional bins to their subscription, if required. Where using wheelie bins is not physically possible due to the street or property, compostable or reusable sacks will be provided.
As part of their Garden Club membership, residents would also be able to take advantage of a seasonal newsletter, talks from specialists and special offers on gardening-related services and products.
Free collection for real Christmas trees during January would continue to take place from all households, continuing the strong partnership with St Helena Hospice.
As the report makes clear, if approved, the choice-based system would help support the council’s finances post Covid-19 and enable it to help maintain key services.
Two-thirds of local authorities across the country now provide a similar subscription service, including Tendring and Maldon councils, which charge residents £50 and £46 respectively, both with a £25 initial set up cost. Most councils also use wheelie bins for their ease-of-use for residents and staff, helping with health and safety, as well as cleanliness on our streets.
Cllr Martin Goss, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Waste, Environment and Transportation, said: “These new proposals give our residents a choice. The Government makes it clear that garden waste collections are an extra service which we do not have to provide. However, we want to maintain and improve the service, giving people a choice of options, but ultimately, contributing £1 a week to the cost of collection.
“We’ve looked closely at what other councils do in putting these proposals together to ensure the service offer and pricing provides good value for money and is affordable.
“To increase efficiency and improve the wellbeing of our collection crews, we are proposing to use wheelie bins for Garden Club. Our statistics clearly show staff sickness absence rates decrease when they are on a wheeled bin route, due to them not having to lift heavy items for long periods. This is the same for residents lifting the heavy white sacks. We also see less missed collections from wheelie bin areas.
“Many councils give residents no choice at all, but we have worked hard to develop a range of options for residents. A subscription service with added extras is just one option, you can also share a Garden Club collection with your neighbour, get a cheap composter bin to compost your waste at home, or look at joining a community compost scheme. We are also working with garden centres and companies to give residents a range of offers, involving free seeds or discounts when they join the Garden Club service.”
The Scrutiny Panel will discuss the report and make recommendations to Cabinet on Wednesday 8 July.