I spent the weekend in Wiltshire where the council has recently adopted the same system as Bexley for garden waste disposal.
i.e. What used to be free (part of council tax) is now chargeable. The only real difference is that it always was a 240 litre
bin in Wiltshire, collected fortnightly instead of 140 litres weekly as used to be the case in Bexley.
Another small difference is that Wiltshire’s green bin (brown in Bexley) has always been for garden waste only, food goes in general recycling.
Where there has been a big difference is in the way the change has been managed. Wiltshire has spent almost nothing and upset not a single paying customer. Bexley has probably spent all of its first years‘ subscription income on capital equipment and annoyed a huge number of residents.
It scrapped all the old brown bins, 30,000 larger ones have been bought to be issued eventually, 75,000 kitchen waste bins have been purchased and new refuse trucks brought into use.
The changeover has been chaotic with residents left without service for a month or more.
North Wiltshire allowed residents to keep their old bin if that is what they wanted to do. No new bins have been purchased at enormous expense. All they did was issue a sticky label to residents prepared to pay the fee.
Bexley council has always justified paying top dollar to its senior executives on the grounds that running a council requires the best brains to ensure best value, however it would appear that the country bumpkins of Wiltshire run rings around the dross employed by Bexley. Their new chargeable garden waste service cost next to nothing to introduce with no interruption to service to those residents who opted in.
Unlike Bexley where you can have up to five bins at £33 each for 25 collections annually, Wiltshire imposes no limit on the number of bins but the charge is £40 for 24 collections. Guess which system, new labels or new lorries, is likely to have the biggest impact on keeping council tax low.
Sticky labels are not an entirely new concept for Bexley council. It uses the same system on green bins for households which satisfy its criteria for having two general waste bins.