Fears West Suffolk garden waste changes could cause more frequent subscription hikes

Brown bin charges in West Suffolk may increase from �40 to �43 annually Picture: GREGG BROWN

Brown bin charges in West Suffolk may increase from �40 to �43 annually Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Concerns have been raised over plans to increase the subscription for garden waste collection in West Suffolk, with fears that homes could be hit with more frequent price hikes.

A joint task group for St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils was set up in June to review garden waste collection, which was first introduced in 2016.

Annual fees per household are currently £40 for garden waste to be collected, after an agreement to fix it for three years when it was first introduced, but the review included assessing whether that could be upped to £43 or £45.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s scrutiny committee on Wednesday agreed to back proposals to increase the cost to £43 from April next year, with plans to introduce rolling 12 month subscriptions from 2020.

But with annual reviews set to take place going forward, fears were raised that homes could face more frequent cost rises over a period of a handful of years.

Councillor Simon Brown said: “We have now got to explain to residents a hike to £43 and then again to £45 [potentially in future].

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“Maybe it would be a better hike in one go.”

The committee heard that at £43 per year instead of £40 the service can break even.

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Around 30,100 homes are currently subscribed for garden waste bins.

Councillor John Burns, who was part of the task group, said: “Primarily the reason behind that was because the cost of the service was not being paid for by the subscription service, and it was agreed those who were using it should pay for it.”

Mr Burns pointed to councils such as Harlow charging £95 annually as proof that Suffolk’s cost was still reasonable.

The committee acknowledged that the public were sensitive to cost increases, but felt it had been justified in allowing the service to cover its costs,.

Forest Heath’s scrutiny committee will consider the proposals on Thursday, with a final decision due on November 27 at the joint shadow cabinet committee for the two councils.

In a joint statement, operations cabinet members David Bowman and Peter Stevens said: “The track record built over the past three years provides valuable evidence for how to meet future challenges and we look forward to considering their recommendations.”

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