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Garden Waste Charges Higher in Scarborough

Garden Waste Charges Higher in Scarborough

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Carl Gavaghan at 7:14am 25th September 2019.

Residents in Scarborough face an above average cost to have their garden waste collected, new research has shown.

A ratepayer in the borough pays £33 a year to have their green waste taken away by Scarborough Council, £2 more than the average across the UK.

The information has been collated by the BBC Shared Data Unit, which correlated the results for the UK’s 368 local authorities in response to a Government consultation on whether the service should be free.

Critics say gardeners are “increasingly being punished” and have described the charges as a “quiet green-garden tax” which goes against the UK’s commitment to environmentally friendly policies.

The BBC research found that 217 authorities (59%)  charge an annual fee for regular kerbside collections of domestic garden waste, with the price ranging from £22 in Richmondshire to £96 for Harlow in Essex.

Eleven authorities provide no service at all while 100 (27%) offer the collection service for free.

Scarborough is in the 83% of authorities that collect fortnightly, though the service runs only between March and December.

Compared to the rest of Yorkshire, Scarborough’s annual charge of £33 is £10 above the average. Scarborough Council’s own figures show that in 2018 almost 17,000 green waste licences were purchased from the authority.

While ratepayers in Scarborough pay less than their North Yorkshire neighbours in Ryedale, Craven and Hambleton in annual fees, they are the only ones to be charged to buy their green waste bin from the council, at a cost of £15, giving the borough the highest first-year charge of any authority in the county.

Councillor Martin Tett, the environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said that even where the service was free it was still paid for by ratepayers.

He said:

“Ultimately, garden waste collection has to be paid for by someone. 

It’s only fair that those households which have gardens and generate the waste pay for the service. This is why some councils charge for this as it’s not a universal service.

Collecting garden waste is not yet a statutory service.

It is a matter for locally elected councils as to whether they charge for the service. It should be noted that the service is not free in councils that do not explicitly charge. 

Rather the cost is spread over the whole relevant population. The variation in cost will reflect local circumstances, such as geography.

There is no obligation on residents to take the paid service. Home composting is cheaper and better for the environment.

Compost made from garden waste offers consumers a locally-produced alternative to products made of unsustainable material such as peat, and can be used to improve brownfield or agricultural land. It does not generate any significant income for councils as it is a low-value product. The process of turning garden waste into compost is done by a third party at a cost to councils, which is much higher than any money raised from the sale of the end products.

If garden waste collection is mandatory and free then the government will have to pay the full new burden’s cost which will include start-up costs for those that are not currently collecting garden waste and recompensing those councils that currently collect for the lost income.”

On the other side of the argument Anthony O’Sullivan, managing director of Gardeners Club, said UK gardeners were being “punished”.

He added:

“UK councils are increasingly charging residents to dispose of green garden waste, which for many will result in a lack of enthusiasm to keep their gardens looking good, working as they should and potentially increasing the demand for alternative ‘carefree’ gardens based around decking, patios, concrete and worst still … plastic artificial grass.

So whilst the rest of the world is encouraging us all to reduce our carbon footprints and generally live a better environmental way of life, why are UK councils doing the opposite?”

Scarborough Council has been approached for comment.

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