Cash-strapped Amber Valley council bids to reintroduce charges for garden waste service

A cash-strapped council is considering reintroducing charges for its garden waste service and closing a number of town centre offices in a bid to cut costs and balance the books.

Thursday, 7th July 2016, 1:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:41 pm
An annual charge for its garden waste service could be reintroduced by Amber Valley Borough Council.

Amber Valley Borough Council wants to reestablish an annual fee for its garden waste service from March next year, as part of measures to address a budget shortfall.

The authority is also looking at shutting its town centre offices in Heanor, Alfreton and Belper in a bid to cut costs.

The garden waste service, costs the council £350,000 per year.

It has been free to users since 2013, when a £40 fee was dropped, but officers are now recommending that the fee be reintroduced. The council says the service can only continue if income from customers covers its whole cost.

Cllr Chris Short, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environment, said: “The reintroduction of the charge has been made necessary by the scale of the savings the council needs to make.

“We need to deal with a complete withdrawal of Government funding of £2.3 million per year by 2020/21 when we already have a budget deficit from previous annual reductions.

“Knowing how much residents value the service we didn’t want to just stop it and therefore the only option was to make sure it pays for itself, through a fee.”

If councillors approve the proposal at a Full Council meeting next Wednesday, officers will contact all existing users of the service to see whether they want to continue for a fee of £40 per year.

Residents unable to benefit because it has been operating at full capacity will have the chance to join, for an initial one-off payment of £20 to cover the supply and delivery of a bin, plus the £40 annual fee.

Also at next week’s meeting, councillors will be asked to consider launching a consultation into closing its Heanor, Alfreton and Belper offices and centralising services at the authority’s headquarters in Ripley.

Council leader Coun Kevin Buttery said: “I must stress this is not a decision to close the three offices immediately. We intend to consult with the users of the services and report back to a future council meeting.”

He added: “The scale of our budget deficit is significant and it needs to be addressed at the earliest opportunity in order to enable the council to function and set a ‘legal’ budget.”