Latest figures show that the council has exceeded its sign-up projection of 20,000 for its new paid for garden waste collection.
Based on experience from other councils, Horsham District Council set a target for the sign up to its new paid for garden waste service at 40 per cent of all 50,000 households with gardens in the district.
This number looks now to be considerably beaten. Over the last ten days the numbers of people both calling the council’s hotline and applying online have leapt, with up to 800 people per day joining up.
This has put a huge strain on the council’s garden waste telephone team of six and this was augmented last week by four more staff.
Despite the vast majority of people successfully signing up without a problem, this still meant delays for a small number of people and the council has apologised to them but said its systems were running at capacity. The new online sign-up system ran smoothly throughout.
Since February, the HDC has put out a series of information leaflets about the change to the paid for garden waste collection.
The first was a four page pull out in the council’s twice yearly magazine, ‘Horsham District News’ which is sent to 56,000 households.
This was followed by a leaflet drop to all households. These two actions prompted about 15,000 households to apply.
Over the past three weeks letters have gone out to all households that have not yet signed up for the service and there is to be one final reminder placed on bins that do not carry a scheme sticker over the coming weeks. From June 1 bins that do not have a sticker will not be emptied.
The council is also working hard to get the scheme membership stickers out. While some stickers have been quickly despatched, the requirements of the direct debit process and the huge volume over the last few days have caused delays but the council is working to get all stickers out over the next two weeks to all those who have signed up.
Andrew Baldwin (Con, Holbrook East), cabinet member leading the scheme at HDC, said: “I always believed that the scheme would be a big success and I am delighted so many have signed up for it. I notice comments by some people that we haven’t told them about the service but we have really tried to let everyone know about the change using varied means of publicity.
“We have also had to deal with a huge number of last minute sign ups. We took the decision that our current telephone system could cope and we could thus avoid spending money on new systems, and by and large it has worked well - to launch a service on this scale based on existing resources and without spending extra money was never going to be easy.
“It now looks as though we shall exceed our budget and so be able to offset an even higher proportion of the cost of this garden waste service than we thought. This will be of benefit to all council taxpayers across the district.”
Anyone who has not so far joined the scheme can sign up to the new service at any time of the year by visiting HDC’s website or by calling 01403 739459.