Below is the latest briefing from the Transport & Environment Convener (Cllr Lesley Macinnes, SNP Councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton Ward) on charging for garden waste collection in Edinburgh – this briefing has been triggered by some people struggling with a system that forced them to set up their first e-mail account then make their first online payment. Linked here is an article I wrote for the Evening News a few months ago on the risks that come with this charge. Although I did oppose this charge, it became unstoppable in the face of the cuts the Council faces.
The new Garden Waste collection is designed to be a mainly online registration service. Customers can complete the simple registration and payment process by following the link at http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste The registration process can be completed at any time that is convenient to the customer.
We recognise that not every customer has online access at home and the Council has 21 self help machines in Council local offices that customers can use to register for the service. Staff will be onsite to provide advice and guidance on how to complete the online form. In addition computers in Council libraries can also be used and the service has been designed to allow a friend, relative or representative to register on behalf of someone else. This has already proved to be popular with customers.
Where a customer is experiencing difficulty with the online form then they can phone the Council and Contact staff will support the customer to make the application online or, in exceptional circumstances, complete the registration process for the customer. This approach requires the formal Garden Waste terms and conditions to be sent to the customer for approval and when these are returned to the Council we will then contact the customer to take payment. This is a longer process for the customer and we are therefore encouraging customers to use the online form wherever possible. Should the customer have access to email, the terms and conditions can be emailed to them rather than posted in the mail which would speed the process up.
As a result, we are not directly advertising a telephone number. However, where a customer is unable to use or access the online form they can call the Council’s waste and environmental line on 0131 608 1100 during normal operating hours. Customers should select option 1 then select option 9 to speak to an agent. Calls for this service are likely to result in longer than normal wait times and again we are actively encouraging customers, who are able to, to complete the online registration form. This will help to ensure phone lines are free for people who can only contact us this way.
Consistent with the online nature of the service registration process the Council are not actively taking cash or cheque payments. Where customers are genuinely unable to use the online form then payment can be made by debit card via the telephone service, or in very exceptional circumstances the telephone team will discuss other payment options.
The Council’s website (http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste) is being regularly updated with related questions and answers. For ease these are included below.
If Councillors or the support teams need any advice or are dealing with Garden Waste complaints that need to be resolved then please email these to firstname.lastname@example.org who will arrange for the customer to be contacted.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – GARDEN WASTE COLLECTIONS
- We are introducing an annual £25 fee to collect brown garden waste bins. The new service will run fortnightly throughout the year, instead of once every three weeks.
- The current free garden waste service will stop on 5 October 2018.
- If you want to continue receiving garden waste collections after this date you will need to register and pay to receive it by 22 July.
- The new garden waste service will begin from 8 October. The £25 charge will provide a year’s service, finishing on 7 October 2019.
Why we’re charging for garden waste collections
- Our costs are increasing and more people are using our services. The £25 per year charge was agreed by the Council at a meeting in February and it is estimated it will save £1.3 million each year and allow us to provide a more frequent service.
- As garden waste collection is not a statutory service, and with budget pressures and increasing costs and demands, we are no longer able to provide the service for free.
- Over 50% of Councils in the UK charge for a garden waste collection and some have stopped the service altogether.
- The £25 charge is lower than many other Councils and works out at less than 50p per week. The average cost in Councils who charge is £42.40.
Does everyone need to pay?
- You do not need to sign up for this service. However, if you choose not to sign up you will stop receiving garden waste collections when the free service stops. We will write to residents in the summer to let them know when this is happening
- If you receive Council Tax Reduction (formerly called Council Tax Benefit) the service will continue to be free, however you will still need to register to receive the service. We will write to residents to let them know when registration is open. If you receive single occupancy Council Tax discount you will not qualify for this reduction.
- If you are a Garden Aid customer you will still need to pay for the service, unless you are exempt for the above reason (but you will still need to register).
How will the service work?
- We will empty your brown bin once every two weeks all year round. Now we collect once every three weeks
- You will need to renew your permit online every year before it expires to continue receiving the service
- Once you have signed up and we have received your payment we will send you a new collection calendar and a permit sticker to put on your bin
- We will only empty brown bins with valid permit stickers
- There is no limit to how many garden waste bins you can have but there will be an annual charge of £25 per bin
- If your garden waste bin is damaged or missing you will need to order a new binbefore 22 July to ensure it arrives in time for the new service starting
- If you want to share a bin with your neighbours you will need to agree on one resident acting as the lead for booking and paying for the service
- If you move house you can transfer your permit to your new address. You will need to give us six weeks’ notice to update our system and take your brown bin and permit sticker with you to your new address.
What should I do with my garden waste if I don’t sign up?
- We would encourage you to continue to recycle as much as possible by using a compost binand our recycling centres.
- You can also book a special upliftof your garden waste for £35 for up to 28 bags of waste.
- If you don’t want to keep your brown bin you can fill out a form on our website and we will arrange to collect your bin. This form will be available in October once the free service ends.
How do I recycle garden waste?
- You can find out what to put in your garden bin on our recycling pages.
- You canfind more information about composting on the Changeworks website (https://www.changeworks.org.uk/what-we-do/waste/waste-reduction-advice-and-behaviour-change/how-to-reduce-reuse-recycle/how-to)