More than 7,000 people have contacted Fenland Council about its proposal to begin charging for brown bin collections, it has been revealed.
Residents have submitted comments to the authority as part of a public consultation on the controversial plan to start charging £40 a year for the garden waste service.
The consultation ended on Sunday, and now council officials will collate and analyse all the responses – with a report due to go to Cabinet in October for a final decision or whether or not it should press ahead with the idea.
The council has provided the free brown bin service to 40,000 of Fenland’s 43,000 homes since 2006 alongside the blue and green bin collections, both of which it is legally obliged to provide.
The garden waste collection was originally funded by a one-off government, but following a review of spending the authority has decided it can no longer afford the £700,000 annual cost.
Mark Mathews, the council’s head of environmental service, told Cabinet members last month: “With reductions in Government funding creating ever increasing pressure to find further savings, considerations such as charging for services that have previously been offered for free becomes necessary.”
The proposal has sparked a lot of opposition online too, with a petition launched at Change.org attracting more than 1,500 signatures.
Objector Clement Ansell, from Murrow, also asked if the council can’t afford £700,000 of taxpayers money on brown bins, how it could spend £80,000 a year on a mayor “we don’t need” if the devolution package for the area is agreed.
The council said the annual cost of the brown bin service would depend on how many people signed up, with initial estimates suggesting £34.50 year if 20,000 opt in, rising to £46.77 if only 12,000 (30 per cent) wanted to pay.
Bins opting in will get a collection ‘sticker’ and those agreeing early on may get an early bird discount.
Unwanted bins will be collected and either recycled or prepared for re-use.
Those not wishing to pay for the service will still be able to take garden waste to recycling centres in Wisbech, March and Whittlesey.