Controversial plans to charge for garden waste collection debated at meeting

Garden waste

Garden waste - Credit: Archant

Councillors were split while discussing plans to begin charging residents for the collection of their garden waste at Redbridge Town Hall last night.

At an extraordinary meeting of Redbridge Council’s overview committee, Conservative councillors accused the council of rushing out the plans without appropriate forethought.

The scheme, which would see residents register by paying a one-off £50 fee online before receiving a roll of 50 biodegradable bags, has been widely criticised since it was first put forward in early December.

However, cabinet member for civic pride Cllr John Howard, who claims the scheme will save the council £2m in the long run, defended the move.

“It is not ideal,” he said. “I would rather not be doing it, these are not the sort of decisions I got into politics to make, but if we don’t make savings here they will be made as cuts to our libraries, our parks or are services to the elderly.”

Chairing the meeting, Conservative group leader Cllr Paul Canal took issue with that argument, accusing Cllr Howard of “peddling a misleading narrative”.

“It’s an unfair comparison, because this administration are not going to cut the library service, it’s more ‘either we have garden waste collections or a new swimming pool,” he told the cabinet member.

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“I’m concerned that as a result of this proposal our recycling rates will go from appalling to abysmal,” he added.

During the meeting, Cllr Howard revealed that the council’s current garden waste disposal system was currently running £163,000 over budget.

The new system will require 10,000 subscribers across Redbridge to break even, but he told members he expected the uptake to be substantially more than that.

He told the committee; “We are not trying to reinvent the wheel here. We went to Resource London, who co-ordinate waste collections across the capital, and found out what the best, cheapest and most economical solution would be.”

Other concerns raised at the meeting were the affect the new plan would have on the elderly, disabled or those on benefits.

Currently, there are no plans to introduce concessions – a fact that outraged several councillors and even led to Cllr Linda Huggett claiming the council would be breaking the Equality Act.

Answering these objections, Cllr Howard claimed there was nothing to stop residents all “chipping in” for a joint collection, or arranging to purchase a composting bin.