Details of green-waste charge scheme still ‘under development’

JPCT 20-11-12 S12460521X Horsham Brown green waste recycle bin -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 20-11-12 S12460521X Horsham Brown green waste recycle bin -photo by Steve Cobb

The plan to charge £29 annually for the disposal of green waste in Horsham from April or May will fail miserably - according to readers.

Angry gardeners and households have bombarded the County Times, and even Horsham District Council’s own Facebook page, with angry comments over the cost and arrangements of the service, after plans were approved just before Christmas.

Residents grew increasingly frustrated as questions remained unanswered on HDC’s Facebook page, even though HDC said they would post a reply shortly.

But a spokesperson for HDC said they would set up a dedicate question and answer page on their website over the coming weeks, which would respond to all residents’ concerns over changes.

The spokesperson said: “There have been many questions raised through Facebook and other social media sites and we will answer as many of these as we can through a fully comprehensive questions and answers page on our website that is currently under development.

“It is expected that this will be ready in the next couple of weeks as the detail of the scheme is still under development.”

Some readers have said that the council would miss their 40 per cent take-up target, which would see them break even on the service, with any less and impacting HDC’s budget projection for the coming year.

However, when asked by Paul Kornycky, from Cox Green, Rudgwick, whether the council would plough back any profits into the service, Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry), leader of the council, responded in the negative.

He said that it would be irresponsible for HDC to prove any guarantee to ringfence funds at that stage, which has led to allegations that the council could be using waste disposal as a cash cow.

When the opt-in service begins residents will be given a sticker to attach to their brown-topped bin, which will let crews know to empty their bin.

Commenting on the County Times’ website, Horshamd said: “I genuinely believe the uptake will be so low that the council cannot justify increasing the council tax for it.”

They added: “Anyway, it will fail. Miserably!”

Asked whether they expected an increase in fly-tipping, an illegal dumping of waste, HDC said that other areas that had introduced a green-waste charge saw no material increase.

In areas that have no brown-topped green waste bins, HDC will run a chargeable sack collection service at the same rate as bins.

However, users still had questions over the practicalities of picking up bins, especially for those living in flats, where disputes may arise.

Bill Smith asked HDC on Facebook: “What about those of us who live in flats and have the brown top bins/ Are you saying that every resident of the block has to pay £29 per year for each brown top bin we have? What happens if any resident of the block refuse to pay the £29 because they themselves do not use the brown tops.”

On the issue of refunds for missed collections, the spokesperson added: “We will not offer refunds for minor service failures such as an occasional missed bin as the costs of administration make this impractical; but if there are serious or long term service failures then we would deal with these on a case by case basis and act reasonably.”

The council also has legal powers allowing it to refuse to collect residual refuse bins if they contain green waste, and will take action if serious abuse is identified, but only as a last resort.

Rottweiler, a commenter on the County Times website, said: “It may be a “fair” way to charge, but since bins have to be left on the streets where anyone who hasn’t paid can come along and cram their waste in, it’s a brainless idea.

“It also means that people who don’t want to pay the extra will feel entitled to set fire to their garden waste again and stink out our homes and clothes drying on the line. We all pay for a lot of facilities and services that we may not ever want or need to use, and that’s the price of living in a civilised society.

“Breaking the service down so that only the users pay for it, while singularly failing to realise that it’s impossible to police because the bins need to be left unattended on public property for some time, is really really stupid and will just encourage uncivilised behaviour.”