Brown bin service to remain free for at least a year following vote

Campaigners collecting signatures in Felixstowe town centre against proposals for a charge on brown

Campaigners collecting signatures in Felixstowe town centre against proposals for a charge on brown bins - Credit: Archant

Campaigners have expressed their delight following a decision by community leaders in Suffolk Coastal not to bring in charges for the district’s brown bin waste service.

Increasing recycling has long been one of the council’s core strategies and councillors were determined to keep the service free.

Elsewhere in Suffolk, only Ipswich intends to keep the service free – Mid Suffolk and Babergh already charge, and Forest Heath, St Edmundsbury and Waveney have decided in the past few months to charge for the collection of organic waste, likely to be up to £50 a year per household, though the final fee has not yet been decided.

Labour Party members Margaret Morris and Michael Sharman spearheaded a petition against charges with 785 residents in Felixstowe and Leiston adding their signatures, while district councillor Mike Deacon said many people had been phoning him to say they were against an extra charge.

Mr Sharman said they were delighted with the outcome.

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He said: “Councillors realised that they could not ignore what residents feel. Some cabinet members had been talking to the residents they represent. They said: ‘The free service is very much valued by residents,’ and ’Parish councils value the service and don’t want it to end.’

“Common sense has prevailed at Suffolk Coastal. Councillors have listened to the people they represent.

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“They have realised that people will not pay – or will not be able to afford to pay – to have their brown bin emptied. Instead of recycling, waste will go into grey bins or be fly-tipped and recycling rates will reduce by some 20% to 30%.

“We should be promoting recycling and doing all we can to encourage it.

“However, this decision only stands for a year and will be reviewed in 12 months’ time. We will be making sure that the council doesn’t back-track when they think no-one is looking.”

Changes to brown bin services are due to an increase in the cost of composting and significantly less funding from Suffolk County Council to support organic waste collection for recycling.

Suffolk Coastal cabinet members voted to keep the service free.

Keeping the brown bin service free will cost the council £210,000 but it aims to recoup the cash through other income.

Carol Poulter, cabinet member for the green environment, said the council would review the service annually with the option every year to end the free service if financial circumstances change.

The council will now need to enter into a contract for the handling of the garden and food waste collected – a county-wide procurement exercise for the receiving and processing of garden waste and a local procurement for the receiving and processing of mixed organic waste.

She said: “A decision will be made on exactly which waste will be collected in Suffolk Coastal when the financial implications are known.

“Flexibility will however be maintained and the situation will be reviewed annually in case changing circumstances dictate that continuing a universal ‘free’ service is no longer viable.”

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