Will there be mutiny over Milton Keynes green bin charge?

People all over MK are to be charged £33 a year to have their green waste bins emptied, the Citizen can reveal.

Thursday, 2nd March 2017, 11:24 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:53 am

The council’s Cabinet is due to vote through the new charge next week.

It will save £332,000 a year from its overstretched coffers – but it could cause a mutiny among environment-conscious residents.

“We meticulously collect all our garden clippings, vegetable peelings and food waste so it can be recycled for the council as compost – and now we’re expected to pay for it. It’s outrageous,” said one.

By law the council cannot charge for ordinary household waste to be collected.

Already opposition Tory councillors are questioning the legality of charging for compostable waste that inevitably includes household food waste.

They also fear the new charge would lead to more fly tipping or food waste being sneaked into black sacks – a possibility admitted by the council.

Tory leader Edith Bald said: “Conservatives will be challenging this green bin proposal.The costings are weak and incomplete.”

But council leader Pete Marland said people who do not want to pay the green bin charge will be offered an alternative for free – in the form of a small grey plastic food caddy.

“The cost of providing the caddies will come from a different budget, so we will still make savings on the green bins,” he said.

“I realise some people won’t like the proposed charge, but we had to make savings somewhere.

“It was either this or reducing the frequency of pink sack collections. We think it would be better to keep the pink sacks safe.”

The move comes as part of the council’s new Waste Strategy for 2017 to 2021.

The report, due to be rubber-stamped by Cabinet next Tuesday, states: “The strategy will be measured by three main indicators – financial, waste hierarchy rates and customer satisfaction.”

One source said: “It’s very telling that they place ‘financial’ first and ‘customer satisfaction’ last.

“I don’t think people will be satisfied at all.”

The council admits the new green bin charge strategy could reduce MK’s recycling rate, which is currently 52 per cent of all waste generated. But it believes the reduction will only be three or four per cent.

The council will scrutinse every aspect of waste in a bid to reduce the overall quanity produced in MK.

Dealing with the mountains of rubish currently cost the council £25m a year.

They aim to make civic amentiy sites (tips) more efficient, and tighten controls on trade waste.

The council report declares: “The vision of the Waste Strategy is to deliver a high quality waste service that provides value for money and costs substantially less than it did in 2016.”

City Conservative leader Councillor Edith Bald more scritiny of the new green bin charge.

She said: “This appears to have the hallmark of a hastily constructed strategy by the Labour run Council which lands residents with a £33 year charge to collect their green and household waste.

Edith added: “I had always understood that councils are not allowed to charge for household waste collection so this is a puzzling proposal.”

Council chiefs this week won a lengthy legal battle against one of its main waste contractors.

The council took MRF recycling centre operators Viridor to court over a fault in a contract drawn up in 2009.

The fault meant the council lost out each year on index linked profits from the sale of recycled rubbish from the Old Wolverton facility.

Ironically the contract was drawn up by consultancy giants PwC, who were paid hefty sums by the council.

This is the company said to be behind last weekend’s La La Land Oscar award gaffe.

The court heard PwC issued an earlier and “incomplete” version of the waste contract with inflation details omitted.

The judge ruled in favour of the council – but it is believed it will not be getting the backdated cash back from Viridor.

A Tory councillor said: “You’d think a company paid as much as PwC would get it right. Questions need to be answered about this.”