Charges to bulky waste collections in Slough could spike

FEARS have been raised that increasing charges to bulk waste collections will result in a spike in fly-tipping across Slough – but an officer disagrees.

As part of the draft place budget for 2022/23, residents could be hit with rising prices in waste disposal of heavy items, such as refrigerators and mattresses.

The new charges could spike from £10 per item of bulky waste to £17. The council only collects a minimum of three debris as it costs more to hire two employees and a van to pick up the heavy items.

This means the minimum bill could be £51. Slough Borough Council is also eyeing to scrap its offer of free pick-ups for up to three collections for those in receipt of personal independence payment and for the over 65s.

Councillors on the place scrutiny heard about 50 per cent of bulk waste collections are free of charge. In its place, the council could offer a £10 discount for those who enjoyed free pick-ups.

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The executive director of customers and community Richard West said at the meeting on Wednesday, January 12, the council no longer has the funds to be “generous” and the price hikes would put Slough “inline” with its neighbours.

To collect five items, the council could charge £85, whereas Spelthorne and Bracknell bills out £55, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead £65, and Buckinghamshire £100.

However, councillors were concerned this price hike would put people off paying the fee and could lead to more fly-tipping plaguing Slough.

The town was crowned Berkshire’s hotspot for fly-tipping as government shows over 2,800 incidents were recorded from 2020 to 2021.

Cllr Safdar Ali (Lab: Central) said: “If prices do go up, it will have an effect on fly-tipping and the council needs to have a system or a policy in place that if it does have an effect, how are you going to tackle it?”

Slough Observer: Richard WestRichard West

But Mr West believed fly-tipping is committed by people operating a commercial business rather than those who use the council’s waste collection service and people can go to the tip or use another provider if they deem the council’s prices too high.

He said: “From my experience in the industry – and the experience of our neighbouring authorities charging at similar rates – I don’t anticipate a huge increase in fly-tipping.

“That isn’t to say that we don’t have a fly-tipping problem in Slough. I’m saying it won’t get any worse as a consequence of this. We do have to deal with the fly-tipping problem in Slough, but I don’t believe we’re going to make it worse by putting these charges in.”

Cllr Wayne Strutton (Con: Haymill & Lynch Hill) said the council needs to get better at enforcement, saying it could be another income generator from the fines dished out to rule-breakers.

Councillors urged Mr West if he could look at reducing the free collection to one instead of scrapping it entirely or investigate into a 25 per cent discount, which the director agreed to look at.

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However, Mr West said the free collection offer was “open to abuse” as it is based on “honesty” from residents.

Mr West was tasked to find savings in the place and community directorate of about £8million for next year.

Elsewhere, the council is hoping to save £400,000 by reducing street cleansing services, such as decreasing daily deployments by 11 operatives, reduce by three vans and two mechanical pavement sweepers, planned litter picks will be less frequent, and fly-tipping will be cleared by response teams rather than dedicated crews.

Hedge and grass cuttings, as well as other ground maintenance services, could be reduced to save £450,000.

To pump about £1.3m of income into the council, officers are looking to rent out floor space at the authority’s HQ Observatory House. However, this will be dependent on the independent review of all the council’s assets, which is due to take place this and next month.

Slough Observer | News