Fewer than one in five homes in Angus have signed up for the garden waste collection with less than a week to go until the sign-up deadline.
Angus Council said that as of 11am on Thursday around 9,000 households – out of the more than 50,000 homes in Angus – had signed up for the new garden waste collection service.
Meanwhile Arbroath councillor David Fairweather has demonstrated what he thinks of the council’s new garden waste charge – by ripping up the request for payment.
Mr Fairweather said he would not pay the £25 a year charge for his garden waste to be collected as a “matter of principle”.
The independent councillor, who recorded his dissent when the budget was passed earlier this year, described the annual charge as a “council tax rise through the back door”.
He said: “This has been extremely ill thought out as far as I’m concerned.
“The council is hoping to take in £375,000 with this charge. I don’t think that’s going to be realised.
“I have spoken to many people who, like me, are saying they just aren’t going to pay it.
“There are going to be other people who simply can’t afford it.
“I think the council is going to find that they aren’t going to raise the £375,000 they thought they would and there will be a black hole.
Angus is turning into the dirt bag of Scotland.
“Then what are they going to charge for? Perhaps people turning up at the recycling centres? I would be furiously against that.”
Households in Angus have until June 24 to pay the charge if they want to continue to have their green bins emptied.
People can sign up after this date, but would still have to pay the full annual charge.
After July 4 no garden waste bins without a sticker will emptied. Later this year those who have not paid the charge will be asked if they want their garden waste bins taken away.
Mr Fairweather said that he and other opposition councillors had looked into the possibility of bringing forward an alternative budget, which would have had a council tax rise to enable the council to retain more of its services.
However, he was informed that the amount of grants the council would lose by not retaining a council tax freeze, would have led to an 18 per cent increase in rates being required just to make the same amount of money back.
He continued: “We’ve had nine years of a council tax freeze.
“For the first four or five years I agreed with that but as austerity has kicked in we’ve now got a situation where it’s our services that are being affected.
“Angus Council’s decision on the waste collection and recycling centres should be looked at again.
“It’s not just bins that are being affected – there’s a lot more weeds around Arbroath now.
“Angus is turning into the dirt bag of Scotland.”
‘There is no budget allocated for this service’
Angus Council’s leader has warned that decisions about services the council offers will only get “more and more difficult” as austerity continues.
Iain Gaul has hit back at critics of the council’s move to introduce an annual charge for garden waste being collected – pointing out that the majority of councils in Scotland do not collect garden waste at all.
He said: “Government funding is reducing year on year in real terms. In the past three years we have cut £22 million from our budgets. £10 million was cut this year.
“With less money we must change or cut services. It is natural that we look to services that are not a legal requirement.
“For example 19 Scottish councils do not provide a garden waste service, whereas we have chosen to charge for it – £25 per year.
“The switch to a charge for garden waste collections was agreed in this year’s budget – there is no budget allocated for this service.”
Last month Angus Council moved to reduce its provision of recycling services to save money.
The centre at Monifieth will close completely, the skips at Forfar and Kirriemuir will be replaced by a new “supersite”, and there will be reduced opening hours at Brechin and Carnoustie.
Mr Gaul said the decisions Angus Council takes will only get more difficult as cuts to councils continue.
He said: “We have to decide what we can afford to provide in respect of services and staff.
“These decisions will get more and more difficult in the coming years as austerity continues to bite into public service funding.
“We hope that people will subscribe to the garden waste collection service, but other alternatives will also be open to them, including the use of recycling centres or home composting.”
Responding to concerns that the council’s recent changes might lead to an increase in fly-tipping, Mr Gaul added: “I do not accept that people will simply turn to fly-tipping as the vast majority of people are law abiding and environmentally responsible.”