Residents were outraged today after their local council imposed a £36 fee to collect garden waste.
Gloucester City Council has scrapped its free green bin collection scheme and replaced it with an annual subscription service.
Residents must now pay £36 per year to have a green bin emptied every two weeks excluding Christmas – meaning the new scheme costs £1.44 per collection.
But residents with bigger gardens say they will need two bins and end up paying £72 per year – or £2.88 per collection.
Furious locals say the scheme is a ‘stealth tax’ on gardens as the council seeks £6.5 million from its annual budget.
Peter Simonds, 46, who lives with wife Val, 44, and their three children in Quedgeley, Glos., said: ”We have been paying for this for years through our council tax.
”This is just a tax on large gardens. Anyone like me who has a big garden is forced to pay this money because other wise you are left with a lot of grass.
”The collections are only every two weeks anyway – so that’s only 26 collections per year.
”It’s not even every week to soften the blow. Plus from September to March you don’t really cut your grass anyway.
”It just punishes people with large gardens.”
David Redcliffe-Watts, also of Quedgeley, said: ”I think it’s been badly thought through because the website states a price of £36.
”But in actual fact that’s the cost per bin, so if you want two bins you would pay £72.
”On top of that, there are no refunds available if you move house. This is for something that used to be free.”
Another resident, who did not want to be named, reckoned the move would encourage people to try and force their garden waste in normal black bags.
They said: ”Some people will return to putting their garden waste in the black bins, which will cost the council more to get rid of at landfill.
”People who do not want to pay for this service, will sneakily put their green waste in other people’s bins.
”It is unfair that people who have tiny gardens should pay the same as those with large gardens.”
The new scheme came into force on April 4 and subscribers receive a 240 litre wheeled green bin.
It is collected at the kerbside every fortnight, all year round, excluding two weeks over the Christmas period.
Those who do not subscribe must compost their green waste or take it themselves to the city’s Hempsted Household Recycling Centre.
The council, which is not legally obliged to collect green waste, claims the changes will help the environment and battle climate change.
A statement on the authority’s website states: ”Rotting garden waste in landfill produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is considerably more harmful than CO2.
”By signing up to the garden waste collection scheme, you can help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and combat climate change.”
But locals claim the real reason for the change is savage spending cuts at the council.
During the course of the next four years the council needs to make savings of nearly £6.5 million out of an annual budget of £18 million.
A council spokesman said yesterday: ”We had a free service available before but it was only for certain people in the county because we could not afford to run it everywhere.
”We had a consultation and 67 per cent of people said they would rather pay for a scheme they might use, rather than have a rise in their council tax.
”With the service, people on housing benefit or council tax benefit get a 50 per cent discount.
”We have seen lots of people sign up to the service – more than expected.”