Cabinet Member: Councillor John Wynn Jones
To consider the report and make recommendations on arrangements suggested for charging residents a fee for the collection of garden waste
Councillor Angela Russell left the room during the discussion.
a) Submitted - the report of the Cabinet Member for the Environment highlighting the Highways and Municipal Department's intention to charge a fee for garden waste collections.
At a meeting held on 16.12.14, the Cabinet approved the implementation of a range of efficiency savings plans including 'A Review of the Garden Waste Service' to achieve savings of £750,000 in the 2017/18 financial year.
Under the Controlled Waste Regulations 2012, authorities can charge residents a fee for the collection of garden waste (excluding the cost of its disposal) and the Environment Protection Act 1990 provides flexibility on charging a fee should there be a wish to charge a reasonable fee for the service.
Welsh Government, in its good practice 'Collections Blueprint' recommends that residents should be charged a fee for the fortnightly collection of garden waste in order to reduce the amount of garden waste put out by household for collection and in order to save on collection and landfill costs.
It was reported that garden waste contributes towards achieving recycling targets and in March 2016 the Council had managed to achieve 58.75% (statutory target of 58%). It was noted, should the recycling percentage reduce below the target then the Council would face fines. It was highlighted that there would be a likely reduction in the demand for the service in the first year, but it was anticipated that there would be an increase in the following year.
An observation was made that charging a fee on any service was not a popular issue; however, there was a need to respond to the cuts or consideration would have to be given to further cuts in other services.
The Options Considered;
- Option 1: Continue to collect garden waste for 12 months a year and set a fee level of £33 per annum (annual saving - £750,000)
- Option 2: Collect garden waste for 9 months a year and set a fee level of £30 per annum (annual saving - £756,410)
b) In response to an observation regarding concern about being fined for failing to meet national recycling targets, the Head of Highways and Municipal Service said that the department shared those concerns and emphasised the need to continue to achieve and maintain the service to the same standard and monitor the situation carefully.
c) During the discussion, the following observations were made:
· That introducing these changes was not timely considering the recent changes made to recycling arrangements - this would be a step back
· That six jobs were at stake - this was not good news
· A request for the Council to consider Hessian sacks as an option
· Did not support the payment
· A likely increase in fly tipping and misuse of the residual waste bin - how would this be policed?
· A need to consider how vulnerable individuals would cope
· More use of the brown bin should be encouraged
· A request to consider a reduced fee for a smaller sized bin
· It appeared that the County's people were being punished for composting - Welsh Government needed to amend the recycling formula.
In response to the observations, Members were reminded that the proposal had already been approved and that realising the saving was the subject being addressed. It was agreed with the suggestion regarding the untimeliness of the amendment; however, it was reiterated that the Council's financial position was forcing this change. It was confirmed that the situation would be monitored carefully.
It was noted that the use of Hessian sacks had been considered, but that the sacks were small in size and costed approximately £16 each. In the context of misusing the residual waste bin, it was highlighted that enforcement steps could be introduced to control this.
In response to a question regarding selling the compost being produced, it was noted that the department had considered the opportunities to market it; however, as it was a 'soil improver' rather than compost, it could not be sold publicly. It was reiterated that the 'soil improver' was being disposed of on brownland or distributed free of charge to Gwynedd residents through the Recycling Centres.
During the discussion on the scheme's options, the Senior Waste and Commissioning Manager noted that continuing to collect for 12 months a year would improve the possibility of succeeding to meet the national targets as approximately 200 tonnes of waste was being collected outside the growing season.
It was proposed and seconded to support option 1.
Resolved to accept the recommendation to charge residents a fee for collecting garden waste for 12 months a year; however, attention was drawn to the following:
- Concern about the impact of the changes on the recycling targets, considering; -
o That recycling was on the increase within the county
o That the county's residents had just become accustomed to the new arrangements
o That there were substantial fines for failing to meet the statutory target
- Concern that there were additional costs for some families as a result of introducing the scheme
- That there was a request for Cabinet Members to hold discussions with Welsh Government for the purpose of including home composting tonnages in the recycling calculation so that it does not affect the Council's performance against its targets.