A CONTROVERSIAL decision to charge residents to recycle their garden waste has cost more than £25,000 to implement so far.
And householders who have refused to pay the charge and instead put their green waste in their general refuse bin could eventually mean North Tyneside Council pays an estimated £140,000 a year in extra landfill costs.
The figures are from a report to the council’s cabinet next week which is being asked to review the decision to charge £20 for brown bin garden waste collections from March to November.
The council itself has described its garden waste scheme as one of its “big success stories”, collecting almost 10,000 tonnes a year.
The system has had a very high participation rate, with 50,000 out of 68,000 households provided with brown bins in 2005.
But by the November 30 deadline, more than 30,700 had chosen not to pay the charge.
The council has received 193 written complaints and in a budget consultation exercise, 82% of respondents were against the recycling charge.
A motion by Labour councillors, calling on Tory Mayor Linda Arkley to reconsider the charging decision, was passed by the full council.
It said: “This council is concerned at the introduction of a £20 charge for the collection of brown garden waste bins.
“We believe this will have a detrimental effect on recycling in North Tyneside and may end up costing more in terms of collection and environmental impact than it will realise in income. The council calls on the Mayor to reconsider the decision to implement the charge and to maintain the free collection for this service.”
Opponents of the fee claim that charging goes against the council’s policy of encouraging people to recycle and reduce North Tyneside’s carbon footprint, and that it will lead to increased landfilling and fly tipping, plus the environmental costs of thousands of extra car trips to the council’s waste centre.
The report says that set-up costs include £21,000 for letters to householders, £3,259 for staff costs to manage calls about the change, £500 for a payment kiosk at Killingworth and £350 for software.
The 19, 236 people who have signed up to pay will generate £392,440 but costs will reduce this to around £250,000.
The cabinet will have three options: continue with the charge as planned; retain the charge as a one-off payment for one year or more and then review; scrap the charge and give refunds – but this will cost £47,000.
The report says: “A significant drop-off in the take-up of the garden waste collection service would lead to an increase of garden waste sent to landfill and an increase in greenhouse gases. This would damage rapid progress in reducing our carbon footprint. Confusion around the service could lead to residents adding their garden waste to their residual bin or being tempted to fly tip.”
Coun Norma Redfearn, who is Labour’s candidate in the next elected mayor poll in May, said: “A great number of people are angry about this, including many who have paid. If elected I will scrap this charge.”
Mayor Linda Arkley said last night: “I can reassure residents that whatever decision we reach will be in the best interests of North Tyneside.”