Council bins garden waste collections – but offers no refunds

Croydon Council has abruptly suspended all green garden waste collections, despite having received payment in advance of more than £1million for the service from thousands of residents.

Bin and gone: the council has provided little information about the suspended garden waste collections

Some householders, who have paid the £65 annual fee, have contacted Inside Croydon to say that they have had no direct notification about the service suspensions from the council or Veolia, Croydon’s rubbish contractors. Nor have they been informed of any refunds they might receive for the lack of service.

A notice has appeared on the council website since the New Year, saying that the service is suspended indefinitely. No reason is given for this halt in service beyond “to prioritise key services”. This could be because of coronavirus, or it may be because the council is broke. If it is the latter, the council will probably blame the former.

The announcement on the council website states, “The garden waste collection service has been suspended until further notice to prioritise key services. Please leave your garden waste bin out and it will be collected as soon as possible.”

Having paid the subscription, on top of their Council Tax, residents are angry at the lack of notification, and absence of any information from the council about how they might be compensated.

The notice on the Council website. There has been no news announcement and customers have not been notified directly

This comes soon after Veolia distributed leaflets to thousands of Croydon homes providing misleading and incorrect information about changes to their household refuse collection days. A second batch of leaflets had to be distributed to at least a dozen streets on Christmas Eve to correct the error, though many Inside Croydon readers report that they have never received the leaflet with their waste collection schedule, something Veolia is supposed to distribute to every household in the borough once a year.

The garden waste collection service used to be free of charge. Prior to that, the council also encouraged more garden recycling by providing composting bins free of charge.

Garden waste collection fees were introduced by the Labour-controlled council in 2016.  “We can’t afford to run a free garden waste service when we have had to make loads of cuts,” Stuart Collins, the then cabinet member for T-shirts and slogans, said. “Most London boroughs already charge.”

At that time, the council said it would scrap the service altogether if fewer than 18,000 households signed up for green waste collection. It is not known how many residents in 2020 have paid the fee for 12 months of fortnightly collections,  but if it is at least 18,000 still booking the service, then the council will have received £1.17million.

Croydon Council is facing a £66million shortfall in its budget for 2020-2021, and in November issued a Section 114 notice, admitting it cannot balance its budget as required by law.

One of the first cuts in service announced as a consequence of the council’s financial collapse was an end to the free collection of bulky items – a manifesto initiative introduced by the Labour council in 2018, in an effort to dissuade people from fly-tipping old mattresses and washing machines. The council now charges a £31 fee for an arranged collection of up to three items.

Read more: Binmageddon!: Veolia to take until February for ‘tree-cycling’

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13 Responses to Council bins garden waste collections – but offers no refunds

  1. Maverick says:

    This sounds like another brain storm by our favourite Director Steve Piles… sorry Iles.

    I could be wrong but surely if you have paid for a service which is not delivered, then this must a classed as a breach of contract. If the council’s contractor has recently received and uplift (a £21millionincreased payment) then questions need to be asked. What was the uplift for?

  2. Brian Matthews says:

    Like many other subscribers to the green bin collection service I have received no notification of the cessation of the service – and certainly no offer of refund for the unused part of my annual prepayment.

    In addition, I have not received any version of a leaflet with the collection timetable for other bins from the middle of January. This is no surprise really since I did not receive a leaflet in the previous year either even after raising the issue with the Council. (I raised it with them again this year – no response.)

    I have tried accessing the necessary information on the website using MyCroydon. However, the relevant page states that Collection information is currently unavailable.

    When I phoned the Council, after a 40 minute holding time I was advised of the collection dates at that time – and that when they accessed my account the information displayed properly (even though I cannot see them). Could this be because my login link includes a reference to a pre-migration account?

  3. Ian Ross says:

    This is precisely the type of cut that causes fly tipping, already a major issue despite the “we’re watching you” notices. Yet they could find over £400k to reward Jo Negrini’s failure.
    But you’re right, Maverick, we have paid for a service and not providing it is a breach of contract.
    For a council that wants less vehicles and pollution this is a highly retrograde step.

  4. Of course, the people most affected will be those with big gardens in the privileged – and Tory-voting – southern wards. So that’s all right then …

  5. jackgriffin1933 says:

    As a subscriber, one hopes that it’s simply a reflection of the usual post-Christmas bin chaos.

    The assumption being that Veolia are in catch up mode, and don’t have – or won’t lay on – enough crews to do that quickly without impacting upon this service.

    As others have noted: it’s paid for over-and-above so the LBC can’t simply scrap it without other consequences.

    PS/ Didn’t realise that Labour voters don’t have big gardens – must make IDing them for canvassing purposes so much easier.

    “Small garden”?


    “You knock on this one Tony/ Alison/ Stuart/ Caragh”.

  6. Jackie Becker says:

    I have asked this before, but i will just throw it out there again. How on earth does this individual Mr Iles keep his job as Director? It seems every week there is a monumental f##k up of his doing, and it just carries on to the next one, with no comebacks for him, and still a complete total disregard for the residents of the borough, this guy is an absolute joke, what will it take for Ms Kerswell to wake up and smell the coffee and remove this idiot from his post?

  7. Lewis White says:

    I wonder whether the Council’s Head of Legal Services would like to comment on the following :-

    “A Contract is made by a party accepting an offer (verablly or in writing) by another party to legally supply goods or services (to “treat”) in exchange for “consideration”. Payment by the former party to the latter constitutes “discharge” of that party’s obligation under the contract. The monies thus paid over is the “consideration”. ”

    Source– probably any school student’s guide to the Law

    Having paid for my green waste bin to be collected, I expect the council to perform their legal duty to discharge their part of the contract.

    There might of course be fine print about force majeur, allowing the council to evade the obligation.

    Must consult my top Socialist lawyers for guidance as to discharge the duty, and of course, signifcant pecuniary compensation for the acute distress caused by my reading this green waste recycling bombshell news in “Inside Croydon” rather than via a personal email from the Head of Waste mgmt. -Sadly I can’t reveal the exact name of practice for reasons of confidentiality but could perhaps be paraphrased as “KS Law Associates”– from the potting shed of my bigger than average South of the Borough garden.

  8. Chris Flynn says:

    For anyone wondering about the contract, it’s hosted at (yes, although dated 2018, this is the URL provided in my 2020 subscription).

    If anyone is good at reading legal, please let me know if there’s anything useful there! Clause “3.2. For an annual subscription, residents will be provided with 26 fortnightly collections of garden waste over a 12 month period.” sounds straightforward to me as a layman… Which clause are they using to get out of that?

    Interesting that “Force Majeure” specifically relates to “Events outside the Council’s Countrol” – obviously the finance issues were firmly within its control, as have been demonstrated by all the other councils in the country…

    • Dan Bishop says:

      Equally, if the Council tries to rely on the pandemic as an excuse (as they did with me on the phone earlier today), I would argue that the Council knew of the pandemic and would have been able to reasonably anticipate the impact of the virus (e.g. social distancing, self-isolation etc) on bin collections prior to entering into the contract. It therefore lies ill in the Council’s mouth to rely on the force majeure clause in the circumstances.

  9. Croydon will refund residents. It’d be illegal not to.
    Being fuck-wits is not normally covered under Force Majeure.

  10. Dan Maertens says:

    This time I’m on Croydon’s side, or let’s say I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, particularly when you take into account the difficulties that IC has reported with the Post Office delivery services in parts of London and the South East that probably have the same root cause – the current coronavirus crisis and reduced numbers of available staff.

    Why? Well, by sheer coincidence, as I’m writing this the message on the Council website has changed to:
    “Due to a rise in Covid-19 cases leading to a reduced workforce, we are suspending garden waste collections until further notice to prioritise key services. In the meantime, please keep your waste on your property, and we will collect any additional waste as soon as we are able to resume the service. We apologise for the inconvenience”.

    Plus of course, they’re still allowing orders for the service to be placed for the service, so It doesn’t appear that it’s something that won’t be continued. Is this pandemic ‘force majeure’? Probably, although I’m no legal expert, but is is certainly outside of Croydon’s control (factually, not metaphorically – although some might disagree!).

    So it’s a temporary glitch until we’re told otherwise, and no, the contract hasn’t been terminated. It’s all in the small print – you know, the document that no-one reads at the time, but only find out what it really says sometime after. Now where have I read something about people not knowing what’s in agreements that they’ve signed recently ………….?

  11. Joe black says:

    Bullying supervisors,five men in the lorry,no Social distancing, no face coverings being forced to work up til 6.00 some days awful firm

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