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Cabinet approves WSOH consultation and bin fees

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Residents opposed to the waste hub at Hollow Road Farm
Residents opposed to the waste hub at Hollow Road Farm

Councillors have given support to a scheme which will see West Suffolk residents charged between £35 and £50 a year for their brown bins.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council says charging for the service after April next year is necessary because of added budgetary pressures it is facing - which will otherwise leave the two West Suffolk councils with a combined funding gap of up to £500,000.

On Tuesday, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet recommended approval of the subscription-based initiative, which will allow people to opt out, subject to the backing of the full council on September 22.

“I don’t think anybody’s suggesting this with any enthusiasm, but that’s the situation we find ourselves in,” said Cllr John Griffiths, leader of the council, adding that he could not think of a better way forward given the ‘sheer financial gap’ the council faced.

Speaking in favour of the proposal, Cllr Sara Mildmay-White said that, while it would be ‘upsetting’ to introduce charges for a service which was currently free, it was preferable to the alternative - a six per cent rise in council tax.

She said a borough-wide council tax hike would not only be ‘a little unfair’ to people who did not have gardens, but would first require a referendum to be held, which would cost more than £100,000 in St Edmundsbury alone.

“A six per cent increase on the council tax charge would be outrageous and the cost of a referendum would be unacceptable,” she said.

Cabinet members also recommended approval of a second six-week pre-application consultation period for the West Suffolk Operational Hub (WSOH) and £220,000 in funding - £108,000 from St Edmundsbury and £112,000 from Forest Heath - to ‘progress the project’.

Cllrs Beccy Hopfensperger and Sarah Broughton expressed concerns over referring to the Hollow Road Farm site as the ‘preferred option’ in the consultation which will invite members of the public to suggest other credible sites.