Political row as Filton residents could face black bin collections once a month

by BBC LDRS staff for Filtonvoice

Black bin collections for Filton residents could be reduced to just once a month and garden waste fees hiked from £30 to as much as £75 under controversial plans by South Gloucestershire Council.

Opposition Tories have branded the proposals for the entire district, which include new charges for certain types of waste such as tyres and plasterboard at the district’s recycling tips, as “crazy and irresponsible”.

The new Lib Dem/Labour coalition running the local authority has hit back, calling the criticism “astonishing and rather cynical” as work on a new waste contract was “largely done by their previous Conservative administration”.

Changes to how the service is run are needed because South Gloucestershire Council’s 25-year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) with Suez ends in July 2025.

Officers have assessed four options to replace it but every one means a massive funding shortfall, with the cheapest costing £330million over 10 years where bin collections are outsourced to a private operator while recycling centres and other work are brought back in-house.

This requires more than 50 extra council staff and, because of budget savings targets and the fact that the current £3.1million annual grant from Defra will be lost, would leave the council having to find an extra £4.7million a year to run the service, so charges are set to be increased.

Cabinet members are being asked on Monday, June 19, to approve the general idea of how the new service will look, ahead of engagement with residents over the summer and more details to come back for a decision in October, followed by further public consultation.

A report debated at the cross-party scrutiny commission on Wednesday, June 14, said that moving to three-weekly black bin collections from 2026 would save £500,000 a year while four-weekly would recoup a further £300,000.

Charges for disposing of “hardcore” waste at tips, such as asbestos and tyres, would bring in £500,000, while higher fees for collecting bulky waste would add to the current £190,000 the authority receives for the service, although this does not fully cover its costs.

Increases to the garden waste subscription from £30 to £50 were proposed in the council’s annual budget in January but were scrapped by the former Tory administration following residents’ objections.

However, these are now back on the table, with the report saying this would bring in an extra £800,000 a yaer.

But worse is likely to come for householders because the higher charges combined would still only give the council an additional £1.8million a year – well short of the required £4.7million – so officers are proposing that the garden waste charge should be increased to £60 or even £75 a year and that residents would have to pay £25 for a replacement new bin.

Conservative shadow cabinet member for communities and local place Cllr Rachael Hunt said: “I’m extremely concerned that the coalition is considering reducing the frequency of black bin collections, introducing charges at recycling centres and increasing the garden waste collection fee.

“We’re just one month into the new administration and its leaders are already considering ways to saddle South Gloucestershire’s hardworking residents with more fees and charges – something the Conservatives didn’t do when previously running the council.

“In South Glos we have an excellent record of prosecuting people for fly-tipping.

“These crazy and irresponsible proposals could see that record seriously jeopardised as people try to avoid charges and deal with the accumulation of rubbish they’ll see when their bins aren’t emptied as regularly.

“For an administration that has made tackling the climate emergency a top priority, pursuing policies that could be seriously damaging to the local environment is extremely hypocritical.”

Labour cabinet member for communities and local place Cllr Leigh Ingham said: “It is astonishing, and rather cynical, that the Conservatives seemingly appear surprised by the proposals as the work on this project which was largely done by their previous Conservative administration.

“They either have short memories or were disengaged in the work they did in the preparation of this report.

“This new administration believes in listening to the people of South Gloucestershire and we don’t want to prejudge the findings of meaningful engagement activities with residents which will be taking place over the summer.

“However, we have to be clear and transparent with residents.

“The new Lib Dem and Labour partnership administration has inherited incomplete plans for £40million of cuts to be delivered over the next four years.

“Previously both Lib Dems and Labour councillors worked with the Conservative administration to develop the plans for this service and we hope the Conservatives, now they are in opposition, will continue this way of working for the good of our residents.”

Officers told the scrutiny commission that “awkward” waste, such as nappies, clinical and sharp objects, would be collected more frequently than black-bin rubbish under the proposals and that there was plenty of time to talk to residents, explain why the changes were needed and get them onboard.