Midlothian garden waste bin charges to continue

Midlothian council's 'brown bin mountain' after the bins were returned following the introduction of the charge.
Midlothian council's 'brown bin mountain' after the bins were returned following the introduction of the charge.

Midlothian Council has approved plans to continue the chargeable kerbside garden waste collections, despite attempts by the SNP to consider a concessionary rate.

At the full council meeting last week, it was confirmed the scheme had generated a net income for the council of £591,178 in 2019.

Councillors agreed the service should be offered to residents again in 2020, with the charge remaining static at £35 per bin.

The kerbside garden waste collection service operated very successfully last year. The service had 18,516 garden waste bin collection requests, with 99.7 per cent of all collections being completed on time as expected.

Residents can sign up and pay for next year’s service from early January 2020.

As part of the council’s ‘Digital by Design’ vision, payments for the service will once again be online via the council’s online payment portal.

SNP councillors asked for consideration to be made of a concessionary rate which could boost income into the scheme, as well as asking for written assurances that those taking part in community gardening would be supported.

Councillor Kelly Parry (SNP) said: “I am very disappointed that Labour Councillors in Midlothian did not feel that they could take on board the comments and suggestions of our communities.

“There was no evidence that hard working folk in our communities doing communal gardening work would be supported, and no pause to consider a different financial model.”

Councillor Colin Cassidy (SNP)said: “The utter arrogance to push ahead anyway, despite significant complaints from residents, and significant environmental concerns is an act of environmental vandalism.

“SNP councillors put forward a compromise to ensure peoples feedback was included, but this was rejected.”

All Labour councillors voted for the paper unamended. All SNP councillors voted against the paper, having been refused a deferral. One Conservative councillor abstained.

For those who do not have access to the internet, assistance and advice will again be available at all council library buildings through the provision of an ‘Assisted Online’ service. The council also aims to recruit members of the voluntary sector and staff within local community hubs to assist residents to sign up online.

In 2019, around 2000 residents visited their local library to receive assistance with paying online.

Residents who opt-in to the service will receive fortnightly collections of their garden waste from mid-March to mid-November.

Householders are encouraged to sign up early in the payment window, open from early January – 20 February, so as not to miss their first collection. Residents who do not want to pay for the service can recycle their garden waste for free at Midlothian’s two household waste centres at Penicuik and Stobhill. For more information call 0131 561 5284 or email: contactcentre@midlothian.gov.uk.