Harrogate Council defends annual garden waste collection charge introduction

Harrogate Council Offices
Harrogate Council Offices

Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has defended the proposal to introduce an annual charge for the town’s garden waste collection.

Currently, only 60 percent of the town receives the discretionary service, with the cost recovered from the council tax of all those who live in the district.

After calls to extend the service to the remaining 40 percent, the council opened a public survey with a number of options, but outlined the introduction of an annual charge as their preferred choice.

Councillor Michael Harrison said: “What this period of austerity has shown the council is that we need to have hard look at what we provide.

“If you are going to introduce a charge to a discretionary service, make sure it is reasonable, but be open and honest about what that will generate and how that money will be used. I think that is the most responsible approach.”

After looking at the figure charged for green waste collection by councils nearby and of a similar size, HBC suggested an annual charge of £39 per bin.

However some have highlighted that the service, currently offered to more than half of the town for no extra charge, could be provided to all at a reduced rate or on a cost-recovery basis.

Coun Harrison (Con) said: “Whatever price we choose, we have to be realistic with what we are trying to achieve - offering the service at a price that is reasonable and will benefit other council services.

“It is too simplistic to look at one service and say that needs to run at a cost-recovery basis. How would the council run at all if we ran all services like that.

“Everybody I have had a conversation with recognises that something has got to change.”

If the £39 annual cost was introduced, the council would make a profit of approximately £960,000 based on the assumption that 60 percent of the town would participate.

However if the council wants to profit from a discretionary service, it is required to set up a company, which is something they have been looking at doing.

Coun Harrison said: “That is something the council is looking to do as it becomes more commercial and as the council adopts a more commercial approach to it’s activities.”

People in the town have also asked what the profits would go towards if the annual charge was to be introduced.

Coun Harrison said: “All that money will be used for other council services including discretionary services.”

He also outlined plans to improve other waste collection services, by increasing the number of materials collected in the box and bag scheme.