Echo readers have told Sunderland Council to ‘bin’ plans to introduce a charge to collect garden waste.
Yesterday, the Echo revealed the local authority is to introduce a £25 annual fee to empty residents’ brown bins, starting from March.
It is predicted the charge could help the council save more than £800,000 per year.
But the announcement did not go down well with Echo readers – with a whopping 86% saying they would not pay to have their garden waste bin emptied.
And the Labour-controlled council’s plan has also been rubbished by political rivals.
Coun Peter Wood, leader of the council’s Conservative Group, said: “Charging £25 to empty the brown wheelie bins will do nothing to encourage the recycling of green waste.
“It will simply encourage residents to fill up their green bins instead. It is a backdoor way of increasing council tax.
“As far as garden waste is concerned, what city residents really want is an earlier start in the year to brown bin collections.”
Niall Hodson, a Liberal Democrat campaigner for the Millfield and Thornholme ward, said: “Emptying the bins is a basic service that people expect the council to do – after all that’s what we pay our council tax for.
“Not only is Labour’s brown bin tax bad news for residents, it’s also bad news for the environment as garden waste may well end up in normal wheelie bins and won’t be recycled.
“Local Liberal Democrats across Sunderland, Washington, Houghton and Hetton will be fighting this decision all the way.”
Councillor Michael Mordey, the senior councillor responsible for bin collections, said: “Our waste and recycling team have already put significant service changes in place, in response to a reduction in resources, including the move to a four-day working week.
“The demand for the garden waste collection service continues to increase, as more new homes are built, but the funding we receive to run the service has reduced, and continues to do so.
“This means that we had to look at other ways of running the service, or lose it altogether.”
Sunderland City Council began collecting and recycling garden waste in 2004, and collections currently take place from 80,000 properties.
Almost a third of local authorities in England and Wales, including Gateshead, County Durham and Newcastle, charge for the collection of garden waste. Both South Tyneside and North Tyneside do not charge.
Every resident receiving a regular garden waste collection will receive a letter from the council later this year, outlining how the new service is to operate and how to sign up if they wish.