Are Harborough residents turning their back on the green bin service due to the increased fee?
One councillor believes fewer people are subscribing due to the cost - but the council leader says the situation is more complicated
Harborough council’s green bin service is being thrown into jeopardy because fewer people are subscribing, a councillor is warning.
Cllr Phil Knowles said the number of garden waste bins being paid for this year has falllen by 2,351 compared to last year.
And he is blaming the £15 increase hiking the annual fee to £55 in 2021 for the serious drop in subscriptions.
But Cllr Phil King, who heads up the district council, insisted that they are now making almost £180,000 more from the green bin scheme than last year.
Cllr Knowles told the Harborough Mail: “I’ve got my bang up to date figures on green bins from our officers at Harborough District Council.
“The bottom line is that 20,724 bins were taken up last year in 2020.
“That’s dropped off substantially to 18,373 this year.
“And the main reason for this big decrease has got to be the 40 per cent increase that the ruling Conservative party unilaterally imposed in this year’s budget,” said Cllr Knowles, who leads the local authority’s Liberal Democrat group.
“That was far too huge a spike in one fell swoop.
“No wonder so many people have turned their backs on these bins this year.
“And this drastic hike was pushed through without any proper cross-party discussion at the time.
“That’s hardly democratic.
“It’s a statement of fact that the extra money the council is pocketing is much lower than their anticipated figure.
“They are about £70,000 short of the sum they set out to make.
“In a nutshell – Harborough council is generating a lot less cash than it expected to,” stressed Cllr Knowles.
“And if the significant drop in subscribers continues at this rate next year then the whole green bin service could be thrown into doubt.
“There will be far-reaching implications for the entire initiative – and that will be an enormous shame.”
But Cllr King retorted: “I understand that Phil Knowles is doing his best to make a political point here.
“But this isn’t a massive problem for us.
“There has been a small reduction in the number of subscribers.
“But this is not impacting financially on our authority.
“You’ve got to remember that many more people have been at home during the Covid pandemic.
“As a result they are taking their garden waste to the tip and don’t need our green bins for the moment.
“But they may well do so again next year.
“This is a complicated picture,” said Cllr King.
“Yes, some people may not have resubscribed to our optional service because we increased the fee.
“But there are also sorts of factors involved.
“The latest data I’ve got is that 21,435 bins were taken up last year – and that’s dropped off to 18,821 bins this year.
“That still works out at an extra £177,755 pouring in.
“We had no choice but to put up the annual cost for the green bin service, especially after such a tough year for councils everywhere,” said Cllr King.
“The last thing we want is for local taxpayers who don’t subscribe to a green bin being forced to help subsidise the scheme.
“So I am sorry that we have lost a few of our subscribers from last year but this is not a big concern.”