Garden waste collection in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells could cost £30

    Residents in Tunbridge Wells will be made to pay for bins containing garden waste to be collected, if new proposals
    go ahead.
    The Borough Council (TWBC) is considering entering the West Kent Joint Waste Project alongside two neighbouring local authorities, in a partnership that could save a combined £3million a year.
    In the face of criticism from opposition members, the council said the cut-backs are ‘vital for financial security’ and said the timing of the decision was ‘irrespective’ of the £77million Civic Development – due to be voted on next month.
    Residents would ‘opt in’ to garden waste payments.
    The collection proposals would see one contractor put in charge of TWBC as well as Tonbridge & Malling and Dartford borough councils to create a single waste and recycling contract which would last over a ten-year period.
    If plans are given the go-ahead, from March 2019 residents will be required to pay an estimated £30 per year to opt into the fortnightly collection, which is at ­present free.
    Council leaders have hailed the move as an opportunity to ‘reduce the cost of food and garden waste disposal’ while also providing residents with a service which will collect glass bottles and jars from the kerbside.
    A spokesman from TWBC said: “Putting the right waste in the right place will help improve recycling performance in Tunbridge Wells and reduce costs for the council.”
    Councillor Ronen Basu, Cabinet Member for Sustainability said: “We are due to consider the contract from 2019 anyway, so now is a good time for a review.
    “This approach would include the introduction of a wheeled bin for plastics, glass and cans.
    “Asking residents who want their garden waste collected to pay for the service will not please everyone but it brings us into line with other councils in Kent.”
    Councillor David Neve, a member of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, said: “They will be charging for brown bin garden waste to be collected.
    “I think it’s a rubbish idea. It has been agreed by the Cabinet and I think it’s going to leave people with it piling up.”
    The final charge for the collection of garden waste across the borough is unlikely to be set until the details of the new waste contract are finalised next summer. The £30 would include a new bin and TWBC stressed it would be the second lowest in the county.
    Presently, the brown bin is for food waste, grass cuttings, plants, paper and other compost. It is not yet clear which colour the new bin would be.
    Kent County Council is backing the proposals as part of their ambitions to put in place separate collections of discarded food on a weekly basis in all districts by 2020 to reduce the cost of food and garden waste disposal.
    The TWBC spokesman added: “By improving the way we collect food waste and making it possible for residents to keep food waste separate from their rubbish and garden waste using a waste food caddy, the food waste could then be taken to an anaerobic digester where would be converted to fertiliser.”
    The TWBC Cabinet committee will discuss the proposals in a meeting on November 23. Decisions will come in the months following.
    TWBC would join Sevenoaks District Council, Maidstone Borough Council and Ashford Borough Council in charging for the collection. There is no charge for residents in Wealden and Medway.
    Vital
    Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has since defended the proposals which will see waste collection services cut.
    A spokesperson said: “Government funding for local authorities has been and continues to be cut and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, along with councils across the country, is seeking to make financial efficiencies.
    “A new waste contract and introducing charging for garden waste are vital for the Council’s financial security and recycling performance.
    “The timing of the introduction of new waste and recycling services is irrespective of the decision the Council will take in December about whether to proceed with its proposed civic development.
    “If the Council remains in its existing premises it will face considerable maintenance costs and further financial savings will still need to be made.”