CHARGES for garden waste collections costing £40 a year will be introduced in April after Rugby Borough Council (RBC) approved the measure at a meeting on Tuesday (February 7).
The optional scheme will replace the existing green bin service, which will end on Friday March 31.
The charge will save the council £800,000 – helping it claw back a projected £3.8million shortfall in its medium term financial plan due to government cuts in council funding.
The savings will be achieved by a combination of income from the service, reducing the number of rounds, and more efficient collection routes.
RBC environment spokeswoman Coun Lisa Parker said: “While no-one would choose to make this change, we have to set a balanced budget and this service will help us make the savings that we need over the next few years.
“The new service allows those residents who want a garden waste collection service to continue to have one while removing the financial burden from general taxation.
“The change also supports a key objective of the Warwickshire Waste Partnership, which is to reduce the amount of waste collected, while providing valuable information for the partnership’s work stream on charging for garden waste collections.”
But Liberal Democrat councillors said there was a better option which the council decided not to take.
The party tabled a motion which would have seen the service continue for another 12 months while the sustainability and longevity of the service was considered.
Group leader Coun Jerry Roodhouse said: “Rugby Liberal Democrats first raised the issue of redesigning green bin services in 2007 to make it more efficient and cost effective. Our calls were continually ignored.
“Furthermore, the decision to first suspend the service over Christmas, then reintroduce it as well as send out a poorly worded survey to residents – with many still not having received one – has caused confusion and unnecessary disruption to the community.”
Fellow Lib Dem Coun Tim Douglas added: “This process has been badly thought out from the start and the issue should have been looked at a long time ago.
“From the survey responses we know a majority of residents would not continue to use the service if a charge was introduced – and the indications from other local councils who have introduced green waste charges are that fly-tipping and residual waste will increase.”
Nearly half of all local authorities already charge or plan to charge for garden waste collection, which is not a service that councils are obliged to provide.
Households that opt in to the new scheme will receive a sticker to place on their bin, entitling them to a fortnightly collection of garden waste. Residents will be able to sign up for the service online or by telephone from the beginning of March.
Residents who choose not to opt-in will be able to take garden waste to recycling centres or compost it at home. As now, black bins containing garden waste will not be emptied.
Food waste will continue to be accepted in the black bin, though residents will be encouraged to save money by wasting less food.
Details of the garden waste collection scheme will be sent to all residents in early March, and will be published online at www.rugby.gov.uk/gardenwaste when they become available.