Time to tell Central Bedfordshire Council what you think of proposed bin changes as consultation starts

Black bins could become a three-weekly collection
Black bins could become a three-weekly collection

A consultation on possible changes to waste collections in Central Bedfordshire – including three-weekly black bin pick-ups and a £40 annual charge for garden waste – is under way.

Currently only 17 out of 369 district and unitary authorities responsible for waste collection have moved to a three-weekly operation for general rubbish. Rather more councils (30%) now charge for garden waste collections.

Some of the options being mooted by Central Beds Council could see new services introduced, such as food waste and glass, while others suggest changes to the current arrangements for recycling, domestic waste (black bins) and garden waste. The council wants to hear residents’ views on these.

It says bin collections are one of the most expensive services the council provides: the council currently spends £14million a year on collecting and disposing of waste from over 118,000 households. That amounts to around 7% of the council’s budget, or 9% of residents’ council tax.

Because the current bin contracts are about to come to an end, the council is seeking ways to reduce the cost of the service; increase efficiencies; and increase recycling levels.

The options consulted on could save the council over £2million every year, which is money it can invest in other vital services, such as those for vulnerable adults and children.

There are three different options being considered for recycling collections. Option one continues the current arrangements; in option two, cardboard and paper would be put into a separate box; and in option three, glass collections would be rolled out to all residents and collected in a separate box. Residents’ recycling would continue to be collected every fortnight under all of the options. The council is also considering a weekly food waste collection to all households.

A recent study showed more than half of the black bin contents the council collects could have been recycled. More efforts to recycle, along with the suggested changes to the collections, could help reduce the amount of waste going into peoples’ black bins, and allow the council to move to collecting domestic waste (black bins) every three weeks rather than fortnightly. This would deliver significant savings, it says.

The council is also consulting on charging £40 annually for optional fortnightly garden waste collections. Councils are not required to collect garden waste separately, but many have been doing so.

Cllr Budge Wells, Deputy Executive Member for Community Services, said: “Waste collection and disposal contracts are long-term contracts, and as such we don’t often get a chance to make big changes. Our contracts come to an end in 2019, so we’ve been looking at what we might want to change.

“We really need to increase recycling. Our current rate is 46%. We want to increase that to at least 50% by 2020. Recycling is not only environmentally friendly, but is also much cheaper.

“Everything we can do to recycle and be more efficient means our residents’ council tax goes even further: it is four times cheaper to recycle the waste in your recycling bin than it is to dispose of the contents of your domestic black bin.

“Whilst many people are diligent recyclers, we need to do more. A recent study of our black bins showed that over half of the contents could have been recycled instead. So, a lot of people could improve their recycling levels, and thus create more space in their black bins. That would enable us to move to collecting black bins every three weeks, which would generate a big saving.

“But before making any decisions about these changes, we want to know what our residents think.”

You can have your say online at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/bin-changes or you can pick up a paper copy from your local library or tidy tip.

A video talking residents through the proposed options is also available on the website. The consultation is open until 5pm on April 20. The options in the consultation only affect residents in houses - there are currently no changes planned for flats with communal bins.

The council’s Executive will consider all of the public feedback at its meeting on 10 May 2018. Any changes would be implemented in autumn 2019.

During the consultation, council staff will be available at the following libraries to answer questions from the public:

Toddington Library - Tuesday, 13 March (9am-11.30am).

Biggleswade Library - Friday, 16 March (11am-1.30pm).

Dunstable Library - Saturday, 17 March (1.30pm to 4pm).

Leighton Buzzard Library - Tuesday, 20 March (10am to 12noon.

Flitwick Library - Wednesday, 21 March (3pm to 5.30pm).

Shefford Library - Saturday, 24 March (9am to 11.30am).

Houghton Regis Library - Tuesday, 27 March (1.30pm to 4pm).