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Waste and Recycling Plans will Go Ahead Including Controversial Garden Waste Charge

Published: 2nd August 2021 12:23

A special Full Council meeting was held at Chester Racecourse last Tuesday (27 July), where the majority of council members voted to accept the new strategy.  

The key changes approved by Full Council include a chargeable garden waste collection service to be provided over 40 weeks of the year, covering the growing season between March and November. Residents would be able to opt into this service or make their own arrangements.

Orange blooms, most definitely not yet ready for the green bin.Orange blooms, most definitely not yet ready for the green bin. Garden waste collections are to continue fortnightly, in line with the frequency of the proposed kerbside collection service but a key difference would be an annual charge of £40 per container for garden waste collections. This equates to £2 per collection and comes in addition to the Council Tax already paid per household. Cheshire West and Chester Council note that this amount is in line with the current additional capacity charge.

The vote means that the Council can now progress with its plans to transform the way waste and recycling services in the borough are delivered, with the new model supporting residents in reducing the amount of household waste the borough produces and give people more capacity to recycle.

CWAC Council is facing unprecedented pressure on its budgets. The Council faces a funding gap of up to £31m between 2021 and 2024 and the new strategy will help reduce the cost pressures surrounding the Waste Management Service.

The changes will be introduced in 2022, with the charge for garden waste starting from March 2022.

As reported by Cheshire Live: "The vote had been due to take place almost two weeks ago at a virtual council meeting - which have been running for the last 16 months - but eight Conservative councillors called for an in-person meeting to specifically discuss the waste issue, with the Chester Racecourse venue being hired at a cost of £6,000 to provide for adequate social distancing."

There were 36 votes in favour of the strategy and 33 against. It's clear that the decision was as divisive within the council, as it appears to be with the public, judging by social media commentary.

Summer garden.

To note, the key changes approved by Full Council include:

  • Household waste will be collected fortnightly using a 180 litre wheeled bin (as per the current arrangement).
  • Two larger capacity recycling bins on wheels, which will be collected fortnightly to replace existing 55-litre boxes.
  • Food collections weekly using existing small food bin (as per the current arrangement).
  • People will be supported with special arrangements if their housing circumstances make it more difficult to accommodate larger bins.
  • The changes to the services would reduce carbon emissions by 220,000kg a year. This supports the Council's ambition of making west Cheshire a carbon-neutral borough by 2045.

It will help the borough to respond to the challenges of climate change through waste reduction and by cutting Carbon Dioxide emissions.

The Council will work alongside its waste and recycling partner Cheshire West Recycling to deliver a range of innovative new measures. These will be designed to encourage community recycling and tackle litter.

The plans also reaffirm the Council's commitment to continue its good performance in diverting as much waste as possible from costly disposal in landfill sites.

The Council will continue to explore opportunities to use energy from waste and emerging technology to further reduce costly waste processing and treatment.

The strategy will also review the borough's Household Waste Recycling Centres, looking at their locations, access and opening times.

The Council's fleet of refuse collection vehicles will be updated to make it more efficient and cost-effective. This will include options for new energy-efficient and electric vehicles.

There will be an ongoing education campaign to encourage people to reuse and recycle more.

The current system of kerbside sorting of waste and recycling will be replaced. The new service will respond to residents' concerns by removing the existing boxes that some people find difficult to carry and are easily damaged.

Councillor Karen ShoreCouncillor Karen Shore Cheshire West and Chester Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore said: "The decision by Full Council to approve the plans for the new Waste Management Strategy means we can now move forward and start to make the changes.

"We know that people in our borough feel strongly about waste reduction and recycling and we would like to thank everyone who has taken an active role in shaping our new strategy. It represents the best option for the future of our borough if we are to meet our climate change commitments.

"Given the financial pressures the Council faces, we have had to make some tough decisions if we are to continue to provide those services people in our borough rely upon.

"We now need to work together as a community to embrace the changes the new strategy suggests and safeguard the future of our borough.

"We have consulted with our residents throughout this process and we will keep this conversation going as we move towards implementing the new strategy."

Cheshire West Recycling Manager Director, Rob Edmondson, added: "The focus of the company is now to work collaboratively with the Council to ensure the new services are implemented effectively and with minimum disruption to our residents. I would also like to thank everybody within Cheshire West Recycling for their personal commitment to maintaining essential waste services throughout the pandemic and know that they will embrace this new challenge with the same level of enthusiasm."

You can read the full report into the Waste Management Strategy here.



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At 10:01 on 4th August 2021, collierman commented:
Whilst the Council-agreed changes will have some benefit to some, these changes raise a number of questions and issues for which I think residents need answers. Whilst there are other concerns not raised here,

1… will the chargeable green bin collection be an opt-in provision and, for residents who do not want this service, will they be able to have their existing bin removed by the Authority?
2… over the months when the green bin will not be collected, will the Authority allow us to use the black ‘domestic waste’ bin for garden waste in addition to the normal rubbish?
3… I presume that this new arrangement will commence in April 2022. During the course of the financial year can residents opt in or out of the new arrangement? If, for example, I decide not to pay the £40 for the garden collection at the commencement of the year but, say in July, I change my mind and wish to take this service, will this be allowable? Equally, if I initially opt-in to the service and subsequently decide against it, will I get a partial refund on my £40 outlay?

Finally, did Cheshire West and Chester Council think that the hiring of a room at Chester Racecourse for their meeting, at a cost of £6000, would pass unnoticed? As, I believe, there are 70 Councillors, this equates to a cost (to me and all other residents) of £85 – 71 per Councillor. I presume that this cost included all refreshments (although I understand that Champagne Bollinger was not served) and that all who attended felt that it was a justifiable expense to the public they represent. Perhaps, however, each Councillor will be happy to pay this trifling sum out of their individual basic annual allowance of £12495.
At 11:08 on 4th August 2021, collierman commented:
And just another thought - has the Council considered offering compost bins (at subsidised cost) to residents? This could reduce significantly the volume of garden waste which is collected and has to be transported and processed
CO Jones
At 11:35 on 4th August 2021, CO Jones commented:
Quote " I presume that this cost included all refreshments (although I understand that Champagne Bollinger was not served) and that all who attended felt that it was a justifiable expense to the public they represent. " Unquote.

No not all attendees believed it was a justifiable expense. The meeting was pushed through by Conservative Councillors for the opportunity to carry out some personal grandstanding.
Dennis L
At 16:29 on 4th August 2021, Dennis L commented:
Collierman's points are perceptive to which I would add that we have already been clobbered with an extra 3% in our 2021 CT supposedly to cover Adult Care when there are ample reserves to cover it and now we are to be hit with a further 2% for garden waste. This seems a good way to encourage fly tipping. If the council want to continue to do this they had better give us all money trees
At 10:25 on 5th August 2021, essjay commented:
will the recycling boxes in use at the moment be taken away when the new larger recycling bins are introduced - maybe they could be used by the council elsewhere or recycled, if not, what a waste
At 12:03 on 5th August 2021, christine commented:
So am I right in thinking that we will now have 4 wheelie bins!!!!! How idiotic is that? Will we get a refund for the months when they do not collect garden rubbish. I think the majority of people will just stick everything in the black bin and get on with it. Another stealth tax.
Anthony A
At 14:32 on 5th August 2021, Anthony A commented:
In all this, the thing I find most troubling is the claim that Chester Racecourse was used for the meeting at an alleged cost of £6,000. I would be interested to know if this is true or not and, if so, how such a cost can be justified. If it is true ...

To my mind this sends out completely the wrong message, suggesting that money is no object to the council. The council owns or has an interest in many facilities with large spaces where social distancing could be accommodated e.g. schools, leisure centres or theatre spaces. They could have thought creatively and used one of these for free, or for a nominal hire charge generating revenue for a non-profit organisation. If (and I accept at this stage it's an 'if') a £6K spend was deemed appropriate for this meeting then how much is being spent on other things which many might view as unnecessary? Why not save such costs and then, for example, a green bin charge wouldn't be necessary.

Incidentally, I don't buy the idea that a hired venue was necessary to meet social distancing rules. The 'rules' have been relaxed and, for example, theatres are open now where strangers are happily seated very close to one another. I don't get why the same can't apply to councillors, especially where a cost of £6k is involved.
Paul L
At 17:27 on 5th August 2021, Paul L commented:
I see that our rip off local council have decided to no longer collect garden waste, at least not unless you pay an extra £40 a year! Hmm’ I expect they’ll act surprised when there is an increase in fly tipping? I also see that they had no trouble finding the £6000 for a premier site for the meeting to make this decision! Don’t the council offices have meeting rooms?

The council’s refuse tips [Oops’ sorry recycling centres!] are no longer open seven days a week, at least not all of them, and when they are the hours are reduced from what they used to be. To make matters worse they’re closed for two consecutive days each week.

No doubt they’ve discovered that they don’t have a statutory obligation to collect garden waste much as happened with public toilets some years ago. What will be next I wonder? Cheshire East are already charging a ridiculous sum for the dumping of rubble [£3.70 per bag!!]. Maybe next will be charging for scrap metal items, electrical items, chipboard furniture or large pieces of cardboard perhaps, all very recyclable but then so is garden waste and rubble! Charging is all very well but the current band ‘D’ charge of £2200 per year is not a small sum, particularly for retired people on a fixed income.

The change back to a wheelie bin for recycling and the end of kerbside sorting can only be a good thing, no more lorries coughing out diesel fumes choking pedestrians and blocking the traffic for long periods. Perhaps the biggest joke [not really funny!] is that the current recycling boxes and lids are NOT recyclable, at least that’s what I was told recently by a recycling centre operative when I took a broken one and it’s lid to my local centre. So, presumably all the existing boxes and lids will be going to a landfill site? Can this really be true?

With garden waste one is tempted to wonder what the corelation is between a property’s council tax band, the size of it’s garden and thus the property’s value. One is further tempted to wonder if the council’s calculation is the higher the tax band, the more likely the householder’s ability to pay the new tax? This will in many cases be retired people on fixed incomes. Will people receiving housing benefit get their garden waste collected for free?

Perhaps council services should all be individualised and priced separately and then we can choose which services we want to receive – just like garden waste! In recent years the move from ‘water rates’ to water meters has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the amount I and many people I know pay for water.
Jeni Y
At 18:26 on 5th August 2021, Jeni Y commented:
Councils seem to be on a different planet to their Council-tax paying constituents - waste bins are an eye-sore when viewed outside properties - in front gardens for example or around flat complexes; so brilliantly they come up with an idea to 'enlarge' the bins! Statement from them 'people will be supported with special arrangements if their housing area makes it difficult to accommodate a larger bin! How indeed - a magic wand! Just had a Council tax increase and they want more to fund I would say the overpaid management staff salaries/pensions whose management skills seem abysmal; a bright idea I recall was the costly replacement of litter bins in the centre of Chester (costing thousands of pounds) - to dispose of your rubbish you had to touch a very unhygenic handle and when full it signaled the Council to empty the full bin - apparently this was to save on possibly the lowest paid staff employed by the Council; better option would have been to use the existing adequate and attractive bins and remove at least three overpaid management employees and still be well in profit! Ps I live in the Neston area - haven't seen a road sweeper for years nor a 'gulley sucker' which used regularly prevents flooding. Regarding waste bins - a smaller capacity is all some residents require including my household; a pity the Council has lumped us all together when smaller bins would suffice in so many cases. Pss Hope the Waste Management do not have any more bright ideas - ie leave our 'tip' alone - it works brilliantly!
At 11:26 on 6th August 2021, Tony commented:
Very important that this £6k business is clarified. One of our local councillors, Martin Barker is also chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny committee so seems best placed to give us an explanation of if its true and if it is, what justification there is for it.
CO Jones
At 12:20 on 6th August 2021, CO Jones commented:
Ask the Conservative Councillors who pushed for a face to face meeting and took it to a vote. Their details are available on the CWAC Website.

CO Jones
At 12:26 on 6th August 2021, CO Jones commented:
That is the second time i have posted the background information on this thread. It is covered extensively in the Chronicle and possibly on here also.

Quote; The vote had been due to take place almost two weeks ago at a virtual council meeting – which have been running for the last 16 months – but eight Conservative councillors called for an in-person meeting to specifically discuss the waste issue, with the Chester Racecourse venue being hired at a cost of £6,000 to provide for adequate social distancing.

At the meeting, Cllr Joanne Moorcroft branded it a ‘scripted piece of theatre at great expense to rate payers’ and claimed local Conservatives had ‘put politics ahead of the people they represent’.

This prompted an angry response from Conservative councillor Jill Houlbrook, who stood up and demanded Cllr Moorcroft withdraw her accusation.

CO Jones
At 12:30 on 6th August 2021, CO Jones commented:
They should have held the meeting virtually. This is the future for ALL business. I managed the response to Storm Christoph in January 2021 from my home office. Anyone who cannot see that most council business can now be conducted through virtual meetings does not deserve a vote. They have done it successfully themselves for over 16 months.
At 13:51 on 6th August 2021, Tony commented:
Understood, and its appalling, but why did they have to hire Chester Racecourse for £6k when there are numerous council-owned buildings dotted around the patch that they could have used. As stated further up, there are no restrictions now on mixing indoors at a distance etc, so where is the scrutiny on this decision?
Anthony A
At 14:46 on 6th August 2021, Anthony A commented:
Regarding CO Jones' comments, I'd suggest there are three separate issues.

Firstly, was a face-to-face meeting necessary? I'd agree that it does not appear to have been so and, from what I've read, it was the Conservative councillors who pushed for this unnecessarily.

Secondly, even if a face-to-face meeting was deemed necessary, why couldn't it be held in the usual council facility given the general relaxation in Covid rules (crowded theatres are now open etc.).

Thirdly, even if the council offices were unsuitable for some strange reason, who chose the ridiculously expensive alternative venue (assuming the quoted cost is correct)? I'm not sure the choice of venue is down to the councillors so did some council officer (employee) think it would be a good wheeze to splash so much cash? If so, that sends out a worrying message about attitudes to spending amongst staff.

It would be interesting to have some answers.
CO Jones
At 14:58 on 6th August 2021, CO Jones commented:
It does seem baffling it really does but so much hullaballoo that need not have happened if they had been grown up's about it all.

Then again, if i want to explain to a child how not to behave and interact with other human beings i suggest they watch the BBC Parliament channel for a couple of hours.

If I behaved in the work place they way that they do, it would probably end up in a disciplinary hearing.

I here i was was hoping the pandemic might have taught society a few lessons. Oh well.
Jeni Y
At 17:55 on 6th August 2021, Jeni Y commented:
I'm afraid £6000 is a mere drop in the ocean compared with how Council's waste Council tax payers money; unnecessary replacement litter bins in Chester city centre was a fine example! Meetings about meetings have always been the norm in Council offices - so many meeting areas in the office blocks so why the need to hire a room at the Chester Race course?? The subject discussed of course, at great expense, is replacement of recycling bins; payment for garden bins and obviously no consideration with regard to accommodation of larger bins at smaller premises; surely in many cases smaller receptacles are sufficient; it seems the only Council service - refuse collections - that worked in my area is to be replaced by something that is not viable for our needs

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