Waste collection changes approved
Fortnightly rubbish collections are set to be introduced next year across the Malvern Hills district as part of plans to plug a £1.45million gap in the council’s budget.
A majority of councillors approved moving to alternate weekly collections – where rubbish is collected one week and recycling the next – during a Council meeting on Tuesday (21 February, 2017).
Malvern Hills District Council needs to save £250,000 from its waste collection service, as part of an overall £1.45million budget gap needing to be plugged by 2020/21. The council is under significant financial pressure due to government funding cuts and by 2020 will have lost 60 per cent in real terms of its government grant, or some £4.5million.
Cllr Bronwen Behan, portfolio holder for environment on Malvern Hills District Council, said: “We are the last council in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire to operate a weekly collection service so the decision to move away from it is not one we have taken lightly.
“We know it is highly valued by residents. However, we also know residents want us to do other things like helping people access affordable housing, keeping the environment clean and tidy, providing more leisure activities or supporting people to remain healthy. Adjusting our waste collections will help safeguard services and as well as the significant savings we need to make.
“Nothing will change until April 2018 and we will ensure we do everything we can to keep residents informed every step of the way as we prepare for the introduction of the new system.”
It was hoped outsourcing the service to a private firm would save the money, but bids from three different companies showed it would cost between £400,000 and £690,000 more.
Instead councillors agreed to keep waste collections in-house but introduce the new fortnightly collection system from April 2018.
Introducing fortnightly collections will save at least £150,000 with another £100,000 coming from measures such as improved vehicle efficiencies and growth in garden and commercial waste customers.
Under the new system Malvern Hills homes that currently have green recycling wheeled bins for recycling will be given black wheeled bins. Those properties not suitable for wheeled bins because of physical constraints, such as severe slopes and lack of storage space, will continue to use black sacks.
The new system should also help boost recycling rates. Herefordshire County Council saw general waste fall by 3,000 tonnes after ditching its weekly black bag service in 2014.
It is also likely changes will be needed to some rounds and collections days to ensure the new system operates efficiently. A dedicated group of councillors and officers will be set-up to oversee the implementation of the new system and there will be an extensive information campaign to help prepare residents for the change.
This will include providing information directly to households, making officers and councillors available to answer questions at selected festivals and events throughout the year, focus groups, online and through the local media. Residents can also sign up to receive regular updates by email by visiting www.malvernhills.gov.uk/emailalerts.