Rubbish collections in Rotherham face a shake-up which will take nine months to complete after councillors accepted a range of changes including the introduction of a charge for green waste collections and the introduction of smaller bins for general waste collections.
But a former councillor and campaigner is still hopeful that the authority will use its Rothercard scheme, which offers discounts on services to those with low incomes, to reduce the impact of the green waste charge.
From October, those who want garden clippings removed will have to pay with a charge of £39 to cover the first 18 months of the service and future charges to be decided later.
Deputy council leader Gordon Watson defended the move at a meeting of the council’s ruling Cabinet, which authorised the change, saying that many homes in Rotherham were in the council tax band ‘A’ and had no gardens.
He said: “A huge number of band ‘A’ listed properties don’t have gardens. They are paying a service they don’t receive.”
However, Michael Sylvester, a former councillor who still campaigns in the area, has asked the council to offer a discount through the Rothercard scheme because, he said, it left those on low incomes with an unfair charge.
He asked the council to bring the new charge under the umbrella of the Rothercard, but he has now learned the idea had been rejected.
Despite that setback, he is hopeful the council will reconsider the decision as it moves forwards with its new waste collection arrangements.
“The Rothercard gives discounts to people who are over 60 or on a wide range of benefits. One thing they offer is that if you want a large item clearing away, it gives a 50 per cent discount. It is in recognition that people don’t have the means.
“Green bins have been paid as part of council tax and some people qualify for council tax relief. I have a neighbour who has a £101 council tax bill. There is a new tenancy agreement to keep their gardens clean and tidy.
“The £39 charge is 39 per cent on top of the council tax they pay and it will have an unfair effect,” he said.
In addition to the green waste charge, the council is also introducing kerbside plastic collections as a response to demand from the public.
That means the size of the general waste bins will also be reduced, from 240 litres to 180 litres.
Coun Watson said he that was something he had not “been convinced about” but having been part of a trial – in a household with four adults – he had found the bin size had been adequate “so long as you recycle”.
Details have still to be worked out on exactly what types of plastics will be collected when kerbside collections begin, because some types are not suitable for recycling.
Arrangements still have to be worked out about arrangements for bins for flats and maisonettes, where space may be too tight to allow each household to have its own set of standard bins.