Garden waste charges are set to be trimmed for residents in South Ribble.
From next April, the annual fee for green waste collection will be reduced from £30 to £25. The charge for emptying brown wheelie bins in the borough was introduced by South Ribble Council 18 months ago.
Papers presented to the authority’s cabinet reveal that around 24,500 householders out of 39,000 have signed up to accept the charge – but that it has proved “controversial and unpopular” amongst residents.
The Liberal Democrat group made the issue a key plank of their manifesto ahead of the local elections in May. They now support the minority Labour administration on an issue-by-issue basis.
Liberal Democrat group leader David Howarth welcomed the move as “a first step”.
“I look forward to more reductions being made in future – not least for those on pension credit and other low income groups who, hopefully, can be taken out of paying this altogether,” Coun Howarth said.
“One of the questions residents ask is why they are paying to have their [brown] bins collected and then, over Christmas, [we] don’t actually take them.
“We have a lot of leaf-fall at that time of year and people still have natural Christmas trees they want to recycle.”
Sue Jones, cabinet member for the environment, said that she would investigate the possibility of “some kind of service for Christmas trees” and council leader Paul Foster said a review of the charges for low income and pension credit households would also be conducted.
The volume of garden waste collected in the borough has fallen by 15-20 percent since the brown bin charge was introduced, but members were told that there was no obvious link – because there has been no corresponding increase in fly-tipping or waste placed in other bins.
Meanwhile, residents will no longer be expected to pay to replace damaged wheelie bins or rubbish boxes – which have previously cost £30 and £10 each. Almost 550 of the containers were reported damaged in 2017/18.
However, the costs will remain for lost or stolen bins in order to encourage residents to take responsibility for them and to discourage their use in fly-tipping. New properties will also incur the charge.
The overall cost to the council of the policy changes will be around £150,000, but the figure is expected to be offset by the fact that income from the garden waste charges is already over budget by a similar amount.