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Council could spend £27,000 to tell Lichfield and Burntwood residents about new brown bin charges

The bill for promoting the new garden waste charge in Lichfield and Burntwood could be £27,000.

Households are set to be charged £36 to have their brown bins collected from January 1 as part of a move by Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Council.

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.”

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward

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.

Cllr Iain Eadie

Cllr Iain Eadie

“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.”

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18 Comments

  1. Fabtastic

    3rd October, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    “People who don’t pay the charge will need to find other methods of disposing any garden waste.”

    Yep, by fly tipping it, or bunging it into black bags and hiding it at the bottom of their black bin. It doesn’t take a genius to work out this is a stealth tax in order to avoid triggering a council tax referendum.

    Tories are cowards.

  2. MoreMoneyThanSense

    3rd October, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    £19K to distribute leaflets? Why not just stick the details on the bin when next collected. Householders could then take it off the brown bin, and stick it straight in the blue bin. Job done.

  3. Philip John

    3rd October, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    It’s okay, they’re making a £333,379 profit from charging for brown bin collection: https://medium.com/@something_phil/cowardice-in-lichfield-870e2aed5cac

  4. John Griffin

    3rd October, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Cheap at the price, and it’s our money they’re both spending and collecting. If it wasn’t for the 7 years of their malevolent government we might have enjoyed the 2010 growth and had relatively little in the way of cuts (before Rob gets on here, go and look at official growth figures).

  5. Steve

    3rd October, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Phil, just read your article. Excellent work.

  6. Voice of reason

    3rd October, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    We should all dump our garden waste outside every Conservative councillors front door! You can find their addresses on the Lichfield district council website

  7. Andrew Crutchley

    3rd October, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    so how is the bin man going to know whose bin to empty and in some cases which bin belongs to which house

  8. Ross

    3rd October, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    As we understand it, bins will have stickers to mark them as being for collection and identify the house they belong to and wagons will be fitted with equipment so the driver can double check which homes have paid the charge.

  9. Chris

    4th October, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Can I suggest everyone who has not paid for the service still puts their Brown bin out, and shuffle with those who have paid.

    Binmen will take twice as long to do a round as they do now.

  10. Helen

    4th October, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    I agree with MoreMoneyThanSense – stick a note/sticker on the bins as they are being collected and save on the £19k distribution!! As for a video, really – why would you waste our money on this, a free banner on the websites would also do the job.

  11. Frog in my throat

    4th October, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Will the identifying sticker be placed on the bin lid? Is it removable? If not, the bin lids are; they unclip quite easily, so if I don’t want to pay and my neighbour does, I could switch the lids and then switch them back after the bin has been emptied. Or I could just wait until they put their bin out for collection and then chuck a few black bags of grass cuttings into their bin. Or even into their black or blue bin too. Heck, may as well pop a few into everyone’s bins under the cover of darkness, get rid of the lot in one go. There are plenty of ways round paying this garden tax.

  12. Concerned Ratepayer

    4th October, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    What a waste of ratepayers money. £27,000??! and £2000 to produce a video about 50 people will watch.

    I accept that the council needs to inform people of the changes – a note stuck to the top of each brown bin directing residents to the council website would be more than adequate. Print them on the council photocopiers instead of wasting ratepayers money using expensive external printers.

    And if you want to see what else the council wastes our money on, the LDC spending portal is very revealing: http://spending.lichfielddc.gov.uk/ IT costs in particular are absolutely obscene, for an organisation that has less than 200 employees.

  13. Ross

    4th October, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    For info, the stickers will link the bin to the property and the driver will also have a record of paying households – although it isn’t clear how time consuming this may or may not be in practical terms. There is a move by LDC to get some households with less need for brown bins to share one and split the cost.

  14. Ann

    5th October, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t recall ever seeing anything that says our brown bins are emptied free of charge, but that it is included in the waste disposal element when council tax is calculated. Therefore, given that council tax is calculated April-March why is this charge being imposed in January when if it is included then tax payers will have already have paid for the collections in their 2017-18 bill? However, if it’s a free service can someone direct me to where this is stated please?

  15. Leigh

    5th October, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    “Hello Mr Bin Man, I’m your boss. Could you please put this sticker onto the brown bin when you collect it? It’s a notification of a new charge.”

    “OK, will I be getting any extra cash? Because that’s going to take me an extra 5 seconds of work per bin…”

    “Well, we worked out that it would cost £27k to do this with leaflets and distribution, but we can give you and your team an extra £200 this week for doing it, so call it £1000 for you guys and £4000 for the printing costs.”

    “Sounds good, and it would dramatically reduce the cost to the public purse, saving £22,000 wouldn’t it?”

    “Sure it would!”

    “Hey, I know I’m ‘just a bin man’, but this £36 cost and the extra admin involved in rolling it out and keeping track of which households and flats have paid… well, it all seems a little convoluted, unnecessary and inefficient really, especially as we’ll just end up picking up any brown bin that is put out and people will increasingly fly-tip, meaning that us, farmers and other land-owners will have to go and sort out the mess after?”

    “Shhh now.. You just do what we say. We’ve had endless meetings and tax-payer-paid lunches about this. Do it.”

  16. Ann

    5th October, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Leigh l love your sense of humour. I wonder if Mr Eadie will? Unless there’s something he’s not telling us, it’s simples isn’t it. The mindset of some though is such that they can’t think outside the box or should that be bin?

  17. Leigh

    6th October, 2017 at 10:26 am

    So, the brown bin must stay at your home, even if you don’t pay for it to be collected.

    Can we all get together and charge £36 per year ground rent for the brown bins which we’re storing?

    Seems like a good offer.

  18. Darryl

    8th October, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    To pick up on what Leigh said, so LDC are expecting us to keep the bins on our property, even if we don’t want to pay the brown bin charge? What a terribly presumptuous point of view from LDC, I’m not sure what we’re going to do just yet, however if the decision is to not pay the charge, LDC will be given 14 days to collect the bin after which it will be disposed of at the local recycling centre.