Households in Sunderland are again being tapped up for garden waste collection charges - which are now £7.50 higher than when they were first brought in.
Sunderland City Council is asking households to sign up and pay £32.50 for its brown bin collection service.
The controversial fees were first introduced in 2016, with households charged £25. At the time, council chiefs said the move would save the cash-strapped authority £800,000 a year as it coped with funding cuts from Central Government.
It is now common practice for local authorities to charge for garden waste collection services on top of the council tax bill as austerity measures continue to bite council coffers.
The introduction of the charges was not universally welcomed, however, with many Echo readers saying they would refuse to pay the charge, and critics saying it would drive down green waste recycling rates and encourage illegal dumping.
Three years on, the fee is now £32.50 for 17 collections of their garden waste, from April – November 2019.
Residents who want to use the garden waste collection service need to make their payment before March 1 2019 in order to receive all 17 collections. The council says the charge will be the same, regardless of when people sign up.
Councillor Amy Wilson, Sunderland City Council's cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: "Our residents do a great job at recycling, and over 30,000 households signed up for the garden waste collection service last year. It’s really important to make sure the right rubbish goes in the right bin, so residents can make the best use of the space available in the bins.
"Signing up for garden waste collections is optional, but it is a very cost effective way to get rid of garden waste, at less than £2 per collection."
Households can sign up and pay the charge at www.sunderland.gov.uk/gardenwaste