Councillor hits out at brown bin charge for West Suffolk

Cllr Julia Wakelam
Cllr Julia Wakelam

A Green Party councillor has criticised proposals to start charging residents in West Suffolk for their brown bins.

St Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District Councils are looking at charging £35 a year for a brown bin for garden waste.

On Tuesday, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet will discuss whether to levy the charge or find up to £500,000 extra a year across both councils, which could impact on other services. Forest Heath’s cabinet will look at the matter on September 15.

Denouncing the proposal, Cllr Julia Wakelam said it was ‘wrong’ and would do nothing to help the environment as it would discourage recycling.

She said: “Crucially, from the council’s point of view, it will not save money long term. Inevitably, many, if not most, households will simply revert to disposing of organic waste through the black bins.

“This will increase the costs of collection and disposal, which will not be compensated for by the Energy From Waste process.”

She added “If charging is inevitable – and I do not accept it should be – then alternative ways of recycling must be available to residents from the start.”

Cllr Peter Stevens, St Edmundsbury cabinet member responsible for waste management, said: “It is an incredibly tough decision to take because nobody welcomes paying extra for a service and we have taken it very reluctantly.”

“We simply have to cover that extra half a million pounds, whether through changing the brown bin scheme or taking it out of other services,” he added.

It follows changes to the amount Suffolk County Council pays district councils to support collecting organic waste for recycling.

A final decision will be made on September 22.