The bill for promoting the new garden waste charge in Lichfield and Burntwood could be £27,000.
But a new report has revealed that concerns households don’t know about the new charge means more must be done to make people aware – and the plan is to spend £27,000 to publicise the changes.
That includes £4,000 on printing flyers and £19,000 on their distribution.
Other costs include £2,000 to produce an online video and £1,000 for banners. A further £1,000 has been earmarked for pull up promotion posters in the reception of council buildings.
A report into the issue of communicating the changes to residents said that further action was needed.
“It is likely that communication of the change has not yet been widespread across both areas, and there will probably be a large percentage of the population in both areas, who are unaware that charging is set to take place from January 1, 2018.
“As such a robust communications campaign is needed to highlight the charge, before the collections end, with clear instructions on how to sign up to the scheme.
“There will also need to be ongoing communications during 2018 in the run up to the growing/mowing season, so that people know how to sign up when they start to need to use their garden bin. “
The chargeable waste communications plan – which will go before a meeting of the Tamworth and Lichfield Joint Waste Board – said the councils hoped almost a half of all homes would pay for the collections.
“The charge will be £36 per bin per annum and is being introduced in the context of needing to make savings following Government cuts to both council’s budgets,” the report explains.
“The partnership has set an ambitious target of achieving a 45% subscription rate by the end of the first year.
“As the charge is being introduced at the start of the year – which is outside of the gardening season – it is anticipated that the initial take up will be low.”
The move has come in for criticism, but the report says that the change was necessary.
“The money raised from council tax does not pay for all of the services local government provides, and central government grants have always made up a large part of the budget,” the report explains. “These are being cut to zero by 2020.
“If the two councils don’t bring in the charge then they would have to look elsewhere to make savings – and these would affect a wider section of the community.
“The collection of garden waste is a discretionary service and it could have been withdrawn altogether. However, we have lots of passionate gardeners and we want to be able to continue to offer them a garden waste collection service.”
People who don’t pay the charge will need to find other methods of disposing any garden waste.
Residents will also be asked to keep their brown bin, even if they are not having it collected.
The report said: “They will be asked to keep their garden bin just in case they decide to opt in to the scheme at a later date.
“They will also be reminded that the bin belongs to the property.”
But the move has been criticised by the leader of the Labour opposition group at Lichfield District Council, Cllr Sue Woodward, who said taxpayers would be unimpressed by the scale of the budget for communicating the new garden waste collection charges.
“Not only do we have to face the stealth tax of an additional £36 a year for this service that has been provided free of charge until now, but we as taxpayers are having to fork out £27,000 in council tax for the council to tell us what a great idea this is and to spin responses to any of us in the district who don’t quite see things this way,” she said.
“Then there’s the extra £30,000 the Council intends to spend on collecting the brown bins from those of us who don’t want to take up this supposedly great offer. It all beggars belief.
“It’s a consequence, of course, of the Government’s austerity agenda which is starving councils of resources – even those of the same political colour. Tory councillors so far have been silent about this, even though the financial forecasts have predicted that the harshest impacts on services will come over this next couple of years, but chickens are now coming home to roost.
“They were warned. The Labour opposition group argued against the Bin Tax on all three occasions it was scrutinised but Tory councillors just went along with it. “
But Cllr Iain Eadie, Cabinet member for operational services, leisure and waste, said the local authority had sought to keep costs down.
“We will be sending a leaflet to all 77,000 households across Lichfield District and Tamworth Borough to tell residents about the new garden waste service and how to sign up,” he said. “We will also be putting banners up at local tip sites and in both council reception areas. We’ve budgeted £6,000 for this activity which will be spread across both councils, but we may not spend it all.
“We’re working to keep the cost of promoting the service as low as we can by using existing channels, so will be sending out the leaflet with the annual recycling calendars to save on overall distribution costs.
“Our waste and recycling calendars go out each year in November to local homes to tell them when to put their bins out over Christmas and the following year. Tailored versions of the calendar are hand delivered to all households in Lichfield District and Tamworth Borough to make sure the right calendars reach the right homes.
“We know people like the calendars and we receive lots of positive feedback about them. The calendars also contain information about what waste can go in what coloured bins, so help to boost our recycling rates.
“The cost of printing and distributing the calendars across both areas is approximately £19,000, including contingency, split between both councils. The calendars will also include some information about the garden waste service.
“Depending on take up levels we may choose to send out a further leaflet next year when people start gardening, and we’ve built contingency into the budget for this.”