Plans to charge for emptying garden waste bins could result in less food recycling, more rats and increased fly-tipping, councillors fear.
Proposals outlined in the mid-term financial strategy 2023-7 (budget) reveal Cheshire East could rake in up to £4m a year by introducing the charge.
But several councillors at Thursday’s meeting of the Environment and Communities Committee expressed concerns it could backfire and end up costing, rather than saving, the council money.
Alsager’s Coun June Buckley said: “I can understand why the charge is being put in but we could end up with more fly-tipping, which could cost the council a lot of money, and if people don’t use the green bin and don’t pay the charge, we’re going to get more food waste again, which is blanking out one of our objectives.
“Lastly, if people do start doing massive compost heaps in their garden, we could get an increase in vermin, which would have a public health effect.”
She later added there had been issues with rats where she lived.
Coun Tony Dean (Knutsford) asked how much residents would be charged for the bin to be emptied and what the impact would be on the Leighton Grange composting site if people refused to pay the charge and instead no longer used the garden waste bins, which are also used for food waste.
The Crewe plant, which opened a couple of years ago, processes food and garden waste for Cheshire East.
Ralph Kemp, head of environmental services, said similar authorities to Cheshire East charged in the range of £40 to £60 “but at this point we would need to develop the proposals further to come up with an actual proposed charge”.
He said the contract regarding the composting would have to be looked at again, but any compensation would be less than the amount the council would make from charging for emptying the bins.
Macclesfield councillor Ashley Farrall said Trafford borough council had tried to do this before the pandemic.
“It was a massive failure and they had to completely abandon the project,” he said.
But Mr Kemp said Cheshire West and Chester had introduced the charge a year ago very successfully “with a very high uptake of residents”.
Congleton councillor Sally Holland said: “In Congleton we’ve lost our household waste recycling centre so this being introduced is a double whammy.”
She said people who didn’t want to pay the annual charge could have previously taken the waste to the tip “but they’ve not got that” and was worried this would increase fly-tipping even more.
Mr Kemp acknowledged fly-tipping was on the rise in Congleton and said officers had this week met Congleton Town Council to consider how they could work together to try to reduce fly-tipping across town, as they had recently done in Crewe.
The bin charging proposal came as the council is facing a £20m funding gap for 2023/4 and has to find savings and/or increase income across all its services.
The feedback from the committee will go to today (Thursday’s) meeting of the Corporate Policy Committee before a final decision is taken on the budget proposals at full council on 22nd February.