Harrogate council "overwhelmingly" votes in favour of green waste charge

The charge will be introduced fully by 2018.
The charge will be introduced fully by 2018.

Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has voted to introduce a charge for its green waste collection service following a meeting last night (Wednesday).

Residents who choose to have their garden waste collected by the council will now face a charge of £39 per bin per annum.

The charge has been brought in following a consultation to discuss ways in which the former discretionary service could be rolled out to the whole town.

Councillor Micheal Harrison (Con) said: "[The charge] went through as expected, no changes, as per what scrutiny and cabinet recommended. I don't think it was unanimous but it was overwhelming. I think everyone understands why.

“It will be an opt-in service, so only those residents who want the service are paying for it. This will be introduced from summer 2017 for existing users, and then expanded to all suitable properties in 2018.

But when the council decided to recommend introducing the charge despite the consultation showing the majority were in favour of 'doing nothing', many people reacted negatively.

Following an online report by the 'Advertiser one reader commented: "Absolutely outrageous, this is what council tax is for. Harrogate already charges a high level of council tax and then decide to remove one of the services.

"A complete joke especially after a consultation process which they have ignored and just gone ahead any way. Just think if the money had not been spent on a consultation process the council could have continued to employ the bins."

Another reader also said the consequences of a charge could be detrimental to the town. They said: "So you set up a scheme and get people into a routine of recycling their garden waste then start charging for it! Why? It will be back to queues for the tip to recycle the waste, more car journeys to the tips, or worse still, more fly tipping on the outskirts of town.

"I for one will not pay extra just to get my garden waste recycling collected! One step forwards, two steps back."

But Coun Harrison defended the decision, maintaining that the way the service currently works is greatly unfair.

He said: "When I speak to someone who is unhappy, I ask them what they think about the 40 per cent who don't get the service and what we should do instead.

"The council has to look at all the services it provides and it is massively unfair to have a service that only 60 per cent of the district receives.

"I appreciate that it is potentially a controversial change but the process that we have been through has looked at what is the best way of providing the service to everybody."

But despite many people being disgruntled by the decision, there were those who supported the recommendation by the council.

One reader commented: "Currently some (but not all) residents get a garden waste collection for the majority of the year. However all residents are paying for this. Clearly that is not fair.

"HBC are restricted by how much they can increase Council Tax by. The solution? Offer residents the opportunity to have waste collected for £2.

"If you don't have a garden then you don't have to use the service. If you compost or live near the tip you don't have to use the service.

"I think that HBC make some pretty poor decisions on a regular basis however I feel that the consultation and it's recommendations are, for once, spot on."

Another reader agreed adding: "It seems the fairest way - I have a garden and will be taking advantage of the service if it gets approved £2 is much cheaper than driving to the tip when you consider the time involved."