The City of Wolverhampton Council is proposing significant changes to waste and recycling services as it continues to manage “massive” cuts in funding from Central Government.
The council must make an estimated £54.6 million of new cuts by 2019-20. Cabinet councillors, who meet on Wednesday 19 October, will be asked to agree to consult with the public on 32 proposals that would contribute £13.5 million towards that total.
These include changes to waste and recycling services which is one of the council’s biggest areas of expenditure.
The annual cost of existing household waste and recycling services in Wolverhampton is £11.5 million. This is no longer affordable when Government funding cuts are forcing the council to review the way every service is delivered.
In addition, a five-year £2.3m Government grant which enabled the city to maintain weekly collections will end in April 2017 and will not be replaced.
Councillor Steve Evans, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for City Environment, said that reducing costs was not the only factor influencing the proposed changes.
He added: “Massive reductions in Government funding, including the axing of the £2.3m grant next year, mean that we are having to pass on those cuts and we can no longer afford to spend £11.5 million a year disposing of waste and recycling.
“However, there are other issues driving the need to change too, such as more people renting, more single person households, more people shopping online meaning more packaging to dispose of.
“It is simply not sustainable to continue to do things in the same way.”
The council has reviewed its current waste and recycling operations and come up with a preferred model for the way the service can be delivered in the future which would save up to £2.4 million a year.
Subject to Cabinet approval, it will consult on the following proposals:
- Keeping all existing bins – so no confusing swapping of colours or containers.
- Introducing fortnightly collections of non-recyclable waste – people would keep their existing 140 litre brown bin but would have the option to have a bigger brown bin if they chose to do so. City of Wolverhampton is one of the last councils in the country to make this change – more than 75% of other areas have already switched to fortnightly collections of non-recyclable waste; some have even moved to three-weekly collections.
- Maintaining fortnightly collections of recyclable waste.
- Those wishing to opt into a garden waste service will pay an annual fee of £35. Garden waste is a non-statutory service, meaning the council does not have to provide it. Just under half of councils across the country already charge for a garden waste collection service. In Wolverhampton, it is proposed to extend the service, which currently runs from April to October, so that it is available from the end of February to the beginning of December, and also offer concessionary charges for people who receive full and partial benefits.
- Ending the unpopular and expensive food waste recycling service which has had a very low take-up – 80% of households in Wolverhampton don’t use it.
- Increasing opening hours at the city’s two household waste and recycling centres – tips – and look to create a new super-site tip which would ultimately replace the two separate centres. The super-tip would save taxpayers around £500,000 a year and offer better layout, increased opening hours and less queuing. It would also have a re-use shop run by a charity, where people will be able to pick up items no longer required by others.
Councillor Evans said: “We have reviewed the options very carefully and we believe that what we are proposing offers the least disruption to residents but at the same time will deliver the required savings.
“The changes we are proposing are a 10-year plan, so if implemented we would be able to protect the service for at least a decade. Change is always difficult and opinions will be mixed over what we are proposing, but there will be a consultation where people can give us their views.”
Details of how people can take part in the consultation will be released after next week’s Cabinet meeting.