Recycling sites at places including supermarkets and village halls have been successful in the past for collecting paper, glass and cans, but now all of these materials can be recycled in blue domestic wheelie bins or plastic sacks, the authority has seized the opportunity to save £18,000 a year.
National cuts in Government funding have hit councils throughout the country and West Lindsey has been left with a funding gap of £2.5 million over two years.
Despite this the authority has been able to approve a budget that freezes council tax, avoids redundancies, protects front line services and makes £4.5 million available for community projects.
This has been made possible by making savings and approaching services in a more entrepreneurial way.
The savings have come following consultation with the public, and one of the ideas was removing the recycling drop off points from the start of April.
West Lindsey’s recycling spokesman, Mr. Steve Leary, said that the kerbside recycling scheme is now so popular and well used that it was extremely difficult to justify the existence of a separate collection service which also had to stand the cost of a collection vehicle.
"As recycling from residents’ homes now takes place throughout the whole of the district and the range of materials accepted in the blue bins has increased, the use of the additional sites for recycling has reduced.West Lindsey District Council’s final budget was approved on Monday, 7th March 2011 and the public were invited to give feedback on the cost saving proposals before they went forward.
“There is a significant cost to maintaining and servicing the banks and it is much more efficient and carbon friendly for us to collect extra recycling items that have been placed in the blue recycling bins. If anyone has had a party, or has a few more bottles or papers one week that won’t fit into a blue bin, all residents need to do is simply place them in a clear bag or open cardboard box and leave them next to their blue bin on collection day. We’ll do the rest.
"The banks for textiles, books and shoes remain more popular as we can’t accept these items in the blue bins. These materials are collected on our behalf by charities who will sell what they collect to raise funds. These banks will remain, along with the sites for tetrapaks, (containers for things like drinks and soups), and we may even look to increase their provision"
Some seven hundred and seventy-three people took the opportunity to return questionnaires and ninety-eight people attended budget meetings around the district. The aim of the sessions was to raise awareness of the financial challenges, whilst seeking ideas for efficiencies and income generation, and identifying services that the public felt have low local priority.
West Lindsey's Waste Services manager Mr. Glyn Pilkington was involved in the consultation events and described them as 'very positive', and 'instrumental in the decision making process.'
Another change to be introduced from Friday, 1st April will be a new £10 charge for the first collection of bulky waste items. This will generate about £39,000. There are also proposals to scale back garden waste collections in winter and charge for waste bins at new properties in a bid to save a further £90,000 from the annual budget.
A majority of residents voted to introduce a new minimum £10 charge for the first collection of bulky waste and people who wish to have electrical items or furniture removed from their homes will be charged from Friday, 1st April 2011.
Mr Pilkington said:
"Charging for the first collection of bulky waste items brings us in line with other local authorities who already make a charge for this service.Mr. Pilkington is confident that the budget savings will not affect service provision and that working with residents is the key to success:
"So far this year (April 1 2010 to 7 March 2011) we’ve only carried out 4,018 bulky waste collections. When you consider there are more than 41,000 homes in the district this means that everyone has been paying for a service used by less than 10 per cent of the population. The charge has been introduced so that those people who don't use the service are no longer subsidising those who do.
"We have carried out research with other local authorities and there is no evidence to suggest that incidents of fly-tipping increase in places which charge for bulky waste collections.
"If people have large items for which they don't want to pay a collection charge, then they can take them to the Household Waste Recycling Centres (www.west-lindsey.gov.uk/HWRC) in West Lindsey or surrounding districts which accept a wide range of items.
"Alternatively, if the item is in good condition then a charity maybe able to sell the item and raise money for a good cause. Some, such as the British Heart Foundation, or Gainsborough Furniture Resource Centre, even offer a free collection service, (for details see www.west-lindsey.gov.uk/furniture-reuse) and there are various exchange forums that the Council helps to promote."
"We remain committed to reducing, reusing and recycling as much waste as possible. We are proud West Lindsey is one of the top recycling performers in the country, with over 55% of our household waste recycled. "We hope West Lindsey residents will continue to help us maintain this tremendous performance and ensure materials are diverted from landfill."