Berkshire

Reading council set to make surplus £440k from garden waste - figures show

Bin with money in it Image copyright Jason Collie
Image caption A £60 bin collection charge has been introduced in April 2019

A council is forecast to make more than £440,000 in extra money from garden waste collection charges in the next year, figures show.

Reading Borough Council has increased the charge for green bin collections by 20% to £60, a move described by one resident as a "cynical cash grab".

The council also raised more than double the stated £300,000 running costs in 2017.

It said the extra money would offset domestic waste services.

The council's deputy leader Tony Page said the charge was a "harsh reality" of cuts, but added there was "no chance" it would be reduced.

The discretionary £50 charge was introduced in April 2017, but was increased to £60 for bins and £20 for bags in April 2019.

A total of 14,879 households choose to pay for their garden waste to be collected by the council.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act forecast the council's rise will generate £837,614 in total revenue this year and make £441,636 in surplus cash.

The Labour-run authority made £323,298 on top of £384,776 in running costs in 2018.

'Easy cash cow to milk'

Caversham resident Jason Collie said he understood the council was "struggling financially", but said the scheme was "an easy cash cow to milk" and a "stealth tax".

"To hit up struggling families with a 20% hike this year is a cynical and naked cash grab," he added.

Mr Page said the charges were "common with nearly all councils", adding it was "one of the harsh realities that stem from the cuts".

Ahead of local elections on 2 May, local Conservative party member Simon Robinson said the Tories had "always been against charging for green bins".

Rob White, from the Green Party, called for Reading to "reduce the cost of green bin recycling" and install a food waste collection service.

Liberal Democrat candidate Ricky Duveen added he had "no problem with charging a little bit", but said the council had been "charging twice as much they absolutely need to".

Also standing in the council elections in Reading is Stephen Graham for The Liberal Party, UKIP candidate Graham Macphee and Independent candidate Alan Gulliver.

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