MANSFIELD District Council’s controversial move to charge for brown bins continues to divide opinion as thousands of households face a decision whether to sign up to the scheme.
Bosses say they are ‘very encouraged’ that 6,000 homes in the district have already agreed to pay £25 per year for the new garden waste collection scheme.
This is around 16 per cent of the 37,000 households which were asked if they wanted to fork out for the previously free service.
But 2,250 households, or six per cent, have contacted the authority to opt out of the scheme and request that their bins are taken away.
Coun Philip Shields, portfolio holder for the environment, said: “We have had a very good response and are very encouraged by the take up so far.
“I would advise people to join up at the start of the scheme to get the most out of the service.”
The new policy was confirmed in January after the council set its budget to plug a funding gap of £3.4m.
Leaflets were sent to 37,000 homes asking them whether they wanted to pay £25 per year, or 48p per week, for the service.
The council also promised to roll the scheme out to 6,500 households who have previously not been able to access it.
Leader of the council’s Labour group, Coun Martin Lee, said he was not surprised some people had ‘voted with their feet’ and opted out.
“It is a Council Tax rise by the back door, having to pay for a service that was previously free,” he said.
“In 2011 the mayor said he would be rolling the scheme out for free, yet in a matter of months we were in a situation where people are being charged for it.”
Mansfield mayor Tony Egginton responded by saying he would have loved to keep the service free - but this had not been possible given the financial constraints the council was operating under.
He added there were many terraced properties and homes without gardens in Mansfield whose owners did not require the service and the opt out was the fairest system.
Mary Button, from Mansfield’s Green Party, said it was good news so many residents had signed up to pay for their brown bin, which showed people were getting the message about disposing of their waste.
But she is also concerned that the end of the free service could lead to an increase in fly-tipping.
“Mansfield District Council, like other authorities, is being affected by the pressure to limit spending and maintain green initiatives,” she said.
“So much for the Tory Party’s claim to be the greenest Government ever. It’s a huge shame that this (free service) has to go, as we have to keep up recycling rates, and look at how we dispose of waste.
“Although the council does take garden waste at its local depots, not everyone is able to get there, and it’s likely that withdrawing the service will lead to increased fly-tipping.”
Chad has been inundated with letters about the issue since first breaking the news earlier this year.
Mansfield resident Helena McGuigan, of Eakring Road, said she regarded the move as ‘a devious increase to the Council Tax’ but the service was so useful she had forked out £50 for two bins.
Town resident Helen Mitchell said the charge was unfair and added to the £75 she has to spend on parking permits means she is in effect paying an additional 10 per cent in Council Tax.
Many of the unwanted bins have already been collected by the council, and a spokesman said they would be redistributed to homes that had not been offered the service in the past.
Once a payment has been made, a sticker is issued to put on the bin along with details of scheduled collection dates.
The scheme begins on 1st April and the cost will be £25 even if residents join part-way through the year.
From Monday (12th March), residents who have received leaflets about the scheme and want to sign up can pay online at www.mansfield.gov.uk/gardenwastepayment and set up a direct debit to pay annually.
They can also contact Mansfield 463 463 and pay by debit or credit card, pay by cash, debit or credit card at the Civic Centre, by cheque, made payable to Mansfield District Council, and posted with the completed tear off slip on the leaflet to Mansfield District Council, Hermitage Lane Depot, Maunside, Mansfield, Notts, NG18 5GU.
If you do not want the service contact Mansfield 463 463 or complete the form at www.mansfield.gov.uk/gardenwasteoptout
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