With garden waste collections now operating to schedule across the Derbyshire Dales during the continuing coronavirus pandemic, local residents are being reminded there will be a charge for the service from April next year.
More than half of all UK councils now charge residents for garden waste collections, including 39 of the 50 councils most similar to Derbyshire Dales District Council.
It will cost a discounted £35 for Dales households that subscribe to the garden waste service before the end of January 2021, generating funds to offset the increased cost of the District Council's new waste and recycling contract, which starts next month.
The cost of the contract rises by £1-million a year after Dales residents made it clear they wanted the District Council to maintain current service levels, which are the best in Derbyshire.
It means fortnightly collections of dry recycling and residual household waste continue as the new contract kicks in, together with weekly food waste collections.
A cheaper deal could have been struck by making household waste collections less frequent - but in resident surveys local people rejected this idea.
Councillors voted by an overwhelming majority at a special council meeting at the end of last year for Serco to continue to deliver the waste and recycling contract for the district and also agreed to approve the new charge for collecting garden waste.
Subscriptions open from September this year and the cost will rise to £50 from February 2021 when the discount period ends. Free garden waste collections will continue for all 34,000 households across the Dales until April next year.
Ahead of the new garden waste service launch, the District Council has prepared a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions online at www.derbyshiredales.gov.uk/gardenwasteFAQs
A District Council spokesperson said:
"It's important to stress this will be an opt-in service and charging for garden waste collections was a decision councillors took reluctantly, but we have to raise extra revenue to balance out the impact of the rising cost of the new waste and recycling contract.
“The reality is that we've had to set the garden waste charge so the waste and recycling service overall is affordable to the Council Tax payer.
"We appreciate residents will have many questions, including why the new contract is £1-million more expensive than the current one, which is why we have prepared the FAQs.
“Put simply, the market place was much more competitive when we struck the current deal eight years ago. That deal, which was exceptional value for money, simply does not exist in 2020, and this became clear during a rigorous tendering process.
“Vehicle prices have increased due in part to additional safety features and improved environmental standards, and staff wages have also increased significantly and are likely to continue to rise. In addition, we have specified new technologies such as 360 degree cameras and in-cab technology, which adds to the cost. At the same time, the price obtainable for recyclables has fallen substantially."
The District Council invited all Dales residents to respond to two consultations during a waste service review period. The main survey closed in September 2018 with 2,629 responses.
The spokesperson added:
"Local people made it clear to us they wanted to maintain fortnightly collections of household waste and recycling, and weekly food waste collections. To keep the service at the same level in the face of rising costs, it is necessary for a charge for garden waste to offset some of the overall costs of the new service.
"Added to this, local government finances continue to be challenging and successive central government grant cuts mean we need more money to continue to provide the frontline services our residents expect. The level of government grant we receive will have reduced from £2.8m in 2013/14 to £1m by 2020/21. So even after making substantial savings in recent times, we have to find additional ongoing annual savings or additional income of £250,000 by 2023/24."