Northampton's £42-a-year garden waste collections off to a sticky start

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Staff shortages causing a headache with new subscription service

Northampton's new garden waste collection scheme has been caught up in the Covid-19 crisis in its first few weeks of operation.

Around 21,000 households signed up for the £42-a-year subscription service which replaced collections that were previously included in Council Tax on April 6.

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But stickers for brown bins and sacks used to identify who has paid and who has not are being held up by staff shortages.

Plans to carry on collecting all garden waste for up to two weeks have caused confusion among subscribers.

A spokesman for Northampton Borough Council said: "Due to delays with postage, not all residents have yet received their stickers but may still have subscribed to the service.

“Bins from households which haven’t yet subscribed to the service are being emptied for the first two collections of the new chargeable service, but hangers are being attached to bins warning residents that these collections will not continue.

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“This gives them a chance to sign up and continue receiving the service – and anyone who does so will still be charged for the full year – but also makes clear that beyond the first two chargeable collections, households will need to have subscribed.”

Northampton's new 42-a-year brown bin collections started on April 6Northampton's new 42-a-year brown bin collections started on April 6
Northampton's new 42-a-year brown bin collections started on April 6

Service providers Veolia are continuing to empty bins in Northampton as normal with fewer staff as some are having to self-isolate and have so far managed to minimise delays.

And deliveries of stickers and sacks have also been held up as Royal Mail.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "We are experiencing absence rates significantly higher than what we normally expect at this time of year due to illness and self-isolation.

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"Despite our best endeavours, it is likely that some areas will experience a reduction in service levels due to coronavirus-related absences at their local mail centre or delivery office."

Some residents claim to have not seen hangers attached to brown bins and are contacting the Borough Council regarding refunds.

The cost of two collections works out at £3.36.

One disgruntled subscriber said: "It's It is not really the money that irks but the principle of the matter.

"I can understand a one-off goodwill gesture, but it should stop there -- particularly in light of the fact that they are offering no goodwill to those who have actually subscribed to the service!"

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