Plans to increase the price of garden waste collection in West Oxfordshire will “cause angst among some people”, an opposition councillor has warned.
West Oxfordshire District Council, which covers towns including Witney, Chipping Norton, Woodstock and Burford, plus many rural villages, wants to increase the price of its annual subscription for garden waste collection from £40 to £45 from April.
Residents can pay for fortnightly collections of items such as grass cuttings, leaves, small branches, small tree stumps, plants, weeds and real Christmas trees.
The council expects to generate an extra £166,000 per year from the move as part of efforts to balance the books. But its report on the budget proposals for the 2023/24 financial year came with a warning.
“Increasing the budget does not necessarily deliver an equivalent increase in income,” it read.
“Caution must be taken when considering the suggested fee increases against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis, where some residents of the district will no doubt be looking to cut back on their expenditure.
“This may affect green waste licence take up more than other services like pest control as it is more likely to be seen as a nice-to-have household cost.”
Councillor Norman McRae MBE (Con, Carterton North East), who was the cabinet member for the environment until the Tories lost power in May 2022, raised the matter at this week’s meeting for all councillors.
“The proposal is to increase the licence by £5,” he said. “That is liable to cause angst among some people, I expect.
“The leader (Councillor Andy Graham, Lib Dem, Charlbury & Finstock) says that you carry out full consultations and take these on board, was a consultation done on this increase or what is just in the global budget consultation?”
Councillor Dan Levy (Lib Dem, Eynsham & Cassington), the cabinet member for finance, replied: “There was a consultation of residents about the general budget proposals, and you will not be surprised to hear that most people prefer to pay less and get better services.
“There are a limited number of things we can raise money on, and green collections are one of them.
“I am very conscious of the fact that if you put up the price, fewer people will potentially use the service, there is always a balance, and it is clearly not just a financial issue. We genuinely want people to recycle their green stuff.
“In an ideal world we would not have to put up charges for good things, but we are not in an ideal world.”
The council’s charges for bulky waste collections such as beds, mattresses, sofas and carpets are proposed to go up to £33 for up to four items and £11 per item for up to two extra items from April. The current prices are £30 and £10, respectively.
The budget will be finalised at another meeting for all councillors in February.