Decision to freeze Wealden garden waste prices and not hand out refunds is defended

A senior Wealden councillor has defended a decision not to refund those who missed garden waste collections during the recently-concluded bin strike.

The matter was discussed during a full council meeting on Wednesday (July 20), after questions were raised by councillors Stephen Shing (Independent Democrat) and David White (Independent).

Both councillors criticised the decision to freeze the cost of the paid-for service for one year, rather than refunding or delaying the renewal of the fees.

Cllr Shing said: “The proposal to freeze the garden waste charges looks good and I am happy to support [it], but if there is a similar cost to the council and work involved I would suggest that our council delays the renewal for two months.

Garden waste bin.

“This is much better PR for our council. It will stop residents accusing the council that they paid for a service they don’t receive.”

Cabinet member for housing and waste Ray Cade (Con) defended the council’s decision.

He said: “Under the terms and conditions the council will not be obliged to provide the service if it is prevented from doing so by circumstances beyond its reasonable control. As we know, the dispute was between Biffa and some of its GMB members; we had no involvement in that and we couldn’t affect the consequences of that.

“However, since I’ve been on this council, there has always been a business ethos in the way that we deliver our services. Part of that business ethos, of course, is good customer service. In that respect, it was decided to do some form of recompense for the missed for the missed collections.”

Cllr Cade went on to say that the council had considered either refunding or rolling over the charges for collections, but that the administration costs involved would be “too huge”.As a result he came to the conclusion that freezing the price would be the ‘best and fairest way’ of proceeding. While cheaper than the other options, Cllr Cade said, the freeze would still be expected to cost the council between £190k to £200k

He said: “It is the council taxpayers’ money and it is my responsibility as a cabinet member to ensure that money is dealt with and administered prudently.”