Garden waste collection charges — set to be introduced in Angus — led to “chaos, widespread confusion, missed collections and fly-tipping” after being implemented in Birmingham.
The Courier revealed on Monday that fewer than one in five homes in Angus have signed up for the council’s new waste collection service with just a week to go until the deadline.
More than 2,000 people have also signed a petition in protest at Angus Council’s decision to start charging for garden waste collections which has been described as a “council tax rise through the back door”.
Angus Council leader Iain Gaul has defended the decision by stating the majority of council don’t offer any garden waste collection services.
He warned that decisions about services the council offers will only get “more and more difficult” as austerity continues.
The free doorstep collection of garden waste was similarly withdrawn in 2014 by Birmingham Council to save £2.5 million per year on its refuse collection bill.
The policy, which was initially signed up to by just 37,240 of Birmingham’s 400,000 households, led to huge queues forming at tips with gardeners opting to dump their rubbish rather than pay up.
There were also complaints of green waste being abandoned on the city’s streets.
Rather than take them away, binmen placed bright yellow stickers on the bags advising residents of the new charges and reminding them of possible prosecution for fly-tipping.
Complaints about fly-tipping in Birmingham also went up from 9,813 in 2012/13 to 31,115 between April and December last year.
This was attributed to charges for bulky waste and garden waste collection.
Paul Dale, chief blogger at Birmingham political site The Chamberlain Files, said there was a sense of annoyance among taxpayers at being asked to pay for a once-free service.
He said: “It’s not a lot of money but it’s a matter of principle: people are damned if they’re going to pay extra on top of their council tax.”
However, council bosses in Birmingham have claimed the controversial move is finally paying off, two years after its introduction.
They say they have seen an increase in sales of green waste recycling bins and efforts to encourage residents to compost their waste at home is working.
Thousands sign petition
An online petition started earlier this month protesting the changes to the bin collections and recycling services in Angus has been signed by more than 3,000 people in Angus.
The petition calls for “a new domestic refuse system following full public consultation of what services residents feel they need”.
It adds: “This department is a shambles and needs to be reviewed entirely and the community listened to.”
The petition has been shared over social media and will be presented to Angus Council.
Among those who signed the petition was Andi Corner, from Arbroath, who commented: “We pay enough in council tax and if we agree to pay this, when will the next charge be?
“The people of Angus in majority have tried very hard to use all new bins the best they can. We didn’t ask for this to be implemented but abided by it nevertheless.
“It may only be £25 for the year but it’s the principle.”
Lisa Cornford, of Forfar, said: “If charges are made for collecting waste there is likely to be an increase in fly tipping, costing the council more money to remove.”
Anne-Marie Tait, from Arbroath, added: “Yes, it is only £25 but what about people on a really tight budget?
“We could just not cut our grass but as a tenant you have to keep your garden tidy as part of your tenancy. They want us to recycle but try to make us pay to do it.”