Council rakes in £1.5m from first eight months of garden waste collection charge in Northampton
The introduction of a £42 fee formed a major part of the authority’s budget for 2020/21 – which is the last in its history before being replaced by the West Northamptonshire unitary in spring.
The charge was introduced in April 2020, with the council saying it could ‘no longer afford’ to collect garden waste free of charge. Councils are not required by law to collect garden waste free-of-charge, as they are with general waste and recycling.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service at the time, council leader Jonathan Nunn said the new charge ‘will not be popular’ but that they had ‘little choice’ and had found it ‘increasingly challenging’ to deliver the service free of charge.
The borough also argued upon implementing it that around half of all local authorities in England now charge for garden waste collections. The service collects flowers, plants, grass cuttings, hedge trimmings, or green organic material. Those who have not signed up to the service have to take their garden waste to a local waste recycling centre.
A latest report from cabinet member for the environment, Councillor Mike Hallam, reveals that the borough council has now received £1.56 million in income from the scheme in the first eight months, as a result of 37,273 households signing up for a subscription.
This represents just over half (53 per cent) take up from relevant properties, and the council is still receiving up to 10 extra subscriptions each day. Residents will have to renew their subscription if they want to continue receiving the service past March 31 next year.
The income no doubt represents a huge boost for the borough council’s coffers. The latest finance reports show the council currently registering a forecast overspend of just under £1 million (as of July 31), but cabinet member for finance Councillor Brandon Eldred has said he is ‘certain that the forecast overspend will have reduced even further’ when the next report comes to cabinet on November 11.
The council has also benefited from Government funding to help it through the coronavirus pandemic. It recently received a fourth sum worth £1.23 million, to take its overall funding amount to just over £4 million since the first lockdown in March.