Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh 'garden tax' waste scheme may be ditched

Garden waste collection Image copyright Other

Councillors are considering ditching the controversial paid garden waste service in Edinburgh.

Councillors have agreed "in principle" to halt the £25 a year service.

The council's transport and environment committee approved a motion from Conservative councillor Nick Cook and Green councillor Steve Burgess.

The paid service, which has been plagued with complaints about waste not being uplifted, began last year and brings in £1.4m of revenue.

The renewal of the service for the 2019/20 financial year was agreed by councillors in February.

But Mr Cook told the committee the service has caused "huge reputational damage to the local authority".

He said: "A report to the governance, risk and best value committee was seriously damning [about] how this scheme was rolled out.

"It was implemented without any detailed plans. It's having a really negative effect on recycling.

"If we continue with this policy it goes against the things we are doing like city centre transformation."

In a report to councillors, officers revealed that since the introduction of the charge: "The garden waste tonnage for October-February 2018/19 overall from all sources is down 952 tonnes, while the kerbside tonnage itself is down exactly 1,000 tonnes when compared to the same period for the previous year."

'Budget decision'

Green councillors raised concerns about lower than expected levels of garden waste being recycled - leading to them backing the services being halted.

Mr Burgess, the party's environment spokesman, said: "Given the Conservatives have changed their amendment to an 'in principle' rejection of the scheme, our group is content to accept that.

"We need to be sure that it would be the right thing for the council to end it.

"There's a question about ending the scheme part way through the financial year and how that would be financed."

Officials will bring back a report to the committee next month, setting out whether it is competent to scrap the service.

Lesley Macinnes, City of Edinburgh Council's transport and environment convener, said: "I do have quite a lot of concerns about this.

"We will have to have a report brought back in June. This is in fact a budget decision but I think we will have to clarify that before June."

Lesley Macinnes, City of Edinburgh Council's transport and environment convener, said: "A report detailing the financial implications of any change to the delivery of the garden waste service will be brought back to the next transport and environment committee for consideration.

"Until any decision is made, the charged garden waste service will continue as usual."

Story provided by local democracy reporter David Bol

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