Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire are questioning whether the district’s ruling Conservatives are backtracking on an election promise to reintroduce free green bins. The Council made the decision to charge residents £36 a year for the green waste collection back in 2013 as a £2 million contribution to the multi-million pound savings programme voted through by all parties in order to deal with major cuts in its funding.
During this year’s Council election campaign, the Conservatives made the abolition of the charge a manifesto pledge. However, since winning overall control of the council there have been signs that the Tories are trying to distance themselves from their expensive pledge. On 22 July the Conservative Council Leader told BBC Radio Bristol that the Council had “no timeline on that, which some people may find disappointing”. On the same day, the council’s Communities Committee was told that a report on frontline waste service changes would be discussed at its next meeting, which was held last night. However, no such item was put forward for last night’s meeting.
The Labour councillors’ Deputy Leader, Councillor Ian Boulton (Staple Hill ward), who also leads on Communities issues, says:
“The Council reluctantly introduced charging for green waste because it has to find millions of pounds worth of savings. The alternative cuts, such as to our libraries, were even more unpalatable. Those difficult choices have not gone away, and will only get worse with the Chancellor’s drive for even deeper cuts.
The Conservatives made the pledge of free green bins for political purposes and doubtless expected to blame other parties when it could not be implemented. Now that they have overall control of the Council’s budget they must realise that they have painted themselves into a corner. They should now come clean and admit that the Council cannot afford to scrap the charge, drop their rhetoric and abandon their plans.”