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.
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.
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.
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