"No choice over green fee"

Residents using green waste services soon to be charged,
Residents using green waste services soon to be charged,

A senior councillor has hit back at critics of a scheme which will see homeowners in Haydock, Billinge and Garswood charged to have their green waste removed.

Coun Seve Gomez-Aspron said the decision to introduce annual charges for taking away green waste was essential to help the local authority cope with government budget cuts.

Cabinet chiefs in St Helens voted to bring in the charge, which will stand at between £30 and £35 a year.

Charges will start on June 5 this year.

When the scheme was first announced it sparked outrage among homeowners.

However, Coun Gomez-Aspron said the current system of taking away green waste was costing the council £931,000 per year in operational costs.

Coun Gomez-Aspron, cabinet member for green, smart and sustainable borough, said: “Almost half of all councils in the UK now charge for green waste collection, which is not covered by council tax, and the majority of others are considering introducing a charge.

“We have provided this free service for as long as we can. It is one of the services specifically not covered by legislation. We have covered it under permissive powers, but as a direct result of austerity, like many other local authorities facing significant funding cuts, the council can no longer afford to provide this level of extra service.

“We recently had to put council tax up, but even that doesn’t that doesn’t bring in enough money to cover Government cuts, and so services are lost. Like you, I don’t like that either, but that’s what austerity is.

“The council is faced with identifying the least worst options.

“All of the options are poor, but have been forced on us by the reduction in national funding.

“The only options would be to start charging for green waste collections for the cost of the service, to scrap the service altogether, or to cut a further £931,000 from statutory services such as protecting vulnerable people and roads maintenance. “This is what the Government’s austerity currently feels like. It is a sustained attack on local government finances.”

The scheme will see homeowners who pay the fee issued with a licence sticker which they attach to their green bin.