NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Nov 23rd, 2018.
A controversial decision by Flintshire County Council to charge for garden waste removal has boosted the cash strapped local authority coffers by more than £1m.
The move to charge for brown bin collections, first revealed by Deeside.com in October last year, caused outrage amongst residents in Flintshire.
The ‘opt in’ garden waste service costing £30 a year began in April, next week sees the final brown bin collection of the year.
Some Councillors objected to additional garden waste charges on the grounds it did not align with the Welsh Government’s ‘Blue Print’ for waste collection and that charges are unreasonable contrary to the environmental act 1990 when compared to other local councils.
The council said that while it had a statutory duty to collect household waste from properties within the county it doesn’t have to provide a ‘free’ garden waste collection service.
Officials estimated around 27,600 Flintshire households would sign up for the new garden waste collections in 2018 raising £830,000 in additional revenue.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by Deeside.com reveals that 30309 households in Flintshire took up the £30 bin collection option bringing in £909,270 of additional money.
The new service is expected to save around £130,000 a year due to a reduction in the number of vehicles and operators required for garden waste collections.
The two figures combined brings the total revenue and savings made in the first year of operation to £1,039,270.
Flintshire County Council’s Chief Officer for Streetscene and Transportation, Steve Jones, said:
“The Council is pleased that so many residents chose to take up the service in 2018, which was the first year of the direct charge for garden waste collections.
Feedback from 2018 and the charging arrangements for future years will be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet, before an formal announcement can be made on the arrangements for future years.”
The move to charge for brown bin collections was one of a number of unpopular decisions the council has been forced to make in the wake of ongoing budget cuts from Cardiff.
Last year saw a council tax hike of 6.7% as the local authority struggled to balance its budget.
Officials have said council tax next year could rise by as much as 15% if the council doesn’t get more funding from the Welsh Government.
Politicians across all groups on Flintshire Council united in support of the #BackTheAsk campaign earlier this week in a bid to lobby the Welsh Government for an extra £5.6 million in funding.
Flintshire Council was, once again, one of the worst hit councils in Wales by the provisional local government settlement from Cardiff with an overall reduction in its allocation of 1%.
It means it is currently faces a financial blackhole of more than £15m next year.
Senior figures have warned that frontline services are under ‘serious’ threat unless ministers in Cardiff agree to their request.
On Wednesday Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford announced more funding for local councils worth an extra £141.5m over the next three years.
In a joint statement, council leader Aaron Shotton and chief executive Colin Everett voiced approval for Mr Drakeford’s announcement, but said schools in particular were still facing a difficult outlook. They said:
“The Welsh Government announcement is to be welcomed.
It is underpinned by a recognition of the challenges faced by councils across Wales.
This first announcement follows the First Minister’s recent commitment to local government being ‘at the front of the queue’ for any additional funding.
Negotiations are ongoing and we need further improvement in the funding settlement specifically for schools, many of whom are on the verge of going into financial deficit.
Locally we wish to suppress rises in council tax.
In the absence of an improved funding package, higher council tax rises might become the norm if we are to protect local services.”
Flintshire residents can re-register for garden waste collections from January onwards.