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Council to consider ceasing free garden waste collections and charging for them from spring 2023
South Hams District Councillors are to consider whether the Council should cease its free garden waste collection service from 31 October and start charging £49 per year for an 11 month fortnightly garden waste collection service from spring 2023.
Against the backdrop of rising costs and continued driver shortages nationally, the Council is looking at every option to ensure that the core waste and recycling collection service can remain as smooth as possible when it comes back in-house on 3 October.
The Council will inherit increased operating costs and have to contend with inflation in the price of fuel and wages, as well the need for additional resources. Introducing a charge for the garden waste collections – a discretionary service, not a statutory one – would ease the overall cost pressures on the Council.
As well as easing financial pressures, ceasing the free service from 31 October would also ease pressure on the core waste and recycling collections, helping to keep those as stable as possible in the early months of the transition.
Previously the Council has not charged for the service, but if the Council decides to do this in future, it would bring them in line with most other districts in Devon, who already charge for garden waste collections. Plymouth City Council recently took the decision to end their garden waste collections early this year to ease their own budget pressures.
Councillors will consider the decision at next week’s meeting of the South Hams Executive on 15 September. Should the Executive agree to the plans, they will be deliberated for final approval at South Hams’ Full Council meeting on 22 September.
Cllr Keith Baldry, South Hams Executive Member for the Environment, said: “When the Council decided to bring the waste service back in-house, that comes with the reality of increased costs. With such high inflation, we’ve been left with no choice but to consider every way we can to balance the budget.
“A paid garden waste collection is one way we might be able to achieve that. As well as balancing the books though, this is also about ensuring that our statutory services, the core waste and recycling collections, can run as well as they possibly can when the service comes back in-house.
“However, we want to keep running the current free service into the autumn, so that our residents have a chance to clear their gardens ahead of the colder months ahead.
“Compared to what private companies charge for collections, a £49 annual fee represents good value for money.
“Stopping the free service in November and replacing it with a paid service in the spring are steps that the Executive will carefully consider next week. This will not be an easy decision either way and one that residents can know will be taken with the utmost thought and deliberation.”
Residents can take their garden waste to all three recycling centres in the South Hams. Full details, including opening hours, are available online here: https://www.devon.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/centre/
The Council is also investing £200,000 in new community composting sites, which should offer many residents an alternative to garden waste collection, and potentially lower the environmental impact of the collection service.
The Executive will debate the topic at their meeting on 15 September at 10 a.m. You can watch the meeting live on the Council's Facebook page and YouTube channel: