Details of Planned Garden Waste Service Revealed

Optional annual subscription fee of £65 being proposed

Other boroughs already have a comprehensive garden waste collection service. Picture: Hounslow Council

February 7, 2024

Hammersmith and Fulham Council is looking to introduce a subscription garden waste collection service as part of its budget for the forthcoming year.

A potential scheme was previously included in the local authority’s Reduction and Recycling Plan (RRP), which it filed with the Greater London Authority (GLA) earlier this year. However, at that stage it was not known whether a fee would be involved, with the council telling the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) it was ‘considering a range of options’.

However, in documents published ahead of last Monday night’s (5 February ) Economy, Arts, Sports, and Public Realm Policy and Accountability Committee, which included lists of proposed charges for the new financial year, the annual fee for the garden waste service was confirmed as £65.

The service, which is to be borough-wide, will be optional, with residents free to make alternative arrangements to dispose of their waste. It is expected to require £278,000 of ongoing investment from the council to run, though this is weighed against £650,000 in income, assuming 10,000 households sign-up.

Most homes in Hammersmith and Fulham do not have a garden that would require this service. The LDRS also understands that the details of the potential scheme remain in development.

Among the other charges included in the proposed budget are hikes to items such as a resident’s grave purchase and grant for North Sheen/Mortlake cemeteries (£3,055 to £3,666), and household bulky waste collections, up from £30 to £45 for a maximum of 10 items.

Cllr Jackie Borland put it to officers that the latter increase comes across as ‘counterproductive’, and that she worries it will “be just that little bit more prohibitive to people”.

Bram Kainth, Strategic Director of Environment, said the offering of up to 10 items to be collected remains quite generous when compared against neighbouring boroughs, with most of the cost involved in the sending of someone to pick up the waste.

“When we’ve done that work, we feel the charges we’re proposing are in line with what other boroughs are charging. We’re probably middle of the pack, if you take into account the number of items we’re allowing, plus the charge we’re making,” he said.

Cllr Borland instead suggested that in the future officers may wish to consider a sliding scale approach, which would include smaller fees for the collecting of fewer items. She said, “I do think £45 for a lot of families, a lot of people, is a lot of money and I worry that will just mean the end result is that that sofa, mattress, table whatever ends up on our streets, which effects the whole street scene and how people feel about their borough.”

The council is proposing an overall investment of £488,000 in the Environment Department, which as well as the garden waste service includes funding for the Community and Cultural Events Programme, and a £60,000 contribution to a new Hammersmith and Fulham Black History Cultural Centre. This is weighed against roughly £1.5m of savings, to be found via reviewed fees and charges, efficiencies from rolling out wheeled bins and the garden waste collection income, among other items.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s proposed 2024/25 budget is in the midst of being presented to each of the local authority’s Policy and Accountability Committees for scrutiny. It is then due to go to Cabinet, before Full Council at the end of February for final approval.

According to the council’s RRP, Hammersmith and Fulham is ranked third out of 308 authorities in the country for collecting the least amount of waste per person, and has the ninth-highest dry recycling rate in London. Recent Government data also revealed it to have cut cases of fly-tipping in percentage terms more than any other London borough between 2021/22 and 2022/23.

Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter