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Leicester's charging plan could reduce recycling rate

Leicester City Council is considering charging for some of its recycling services to meet savings targets, despite warnings that it could lead to a 2.8% drop in the authority’s recycling rate and an increase in fly-tipping.

The council will discuss billing its residents for previously free bulky waste collection services at a neighbourhood services and community involvement scrutiny commission meeting on 5 October.

It will also consider whether to introduce charges for the disposal of construction waste at its two household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) at Freemen’s Common (pictured) and Gypsum Close.

Reports from service development manager Luke Crown on the two proposals have been published for the committee’s consideration.

The HWRC report suggests billing residents £3 per bag or item of DIY waste, matching Leicestershire County Council’s policy.

Based on a 75% reduction in the amount of the material deposited at its HWRCs, the city council expects to generate £77,425 annual income from the charges.

According to the Leicester’s research into other local authorities that charge for DIY waste, “the general consensus is that an increase [in fly-tipping] is likely”.

The report also predicts the HWRC charges could lead to a 2.82% reduction in the council’s recycling rate.

The bulky waste report suggests the introduction of a £20 charge per five-item collection. It expects this to result in a 75% reduction in collections and £153,600 annual savings.

It also says: “Research indicates there is no clear correlation between introducing a charge and an increase or decrease in fly-tipping incidences.

“In some local authority areas fly-tipping has increased following introduction of a charge and in others it has decreased or stayed at a similar level.”

It references the Association for Public Service Excellence’s State of the Refuse Collection Market Report May 2015, which found 89% of councils stated they charged for bulky waste collections.

Local charities Age UK, Leicestershire and Rutland Hospice and British Heart Foundation offer free collection of good-quality reusable bulky items.

The council’s recycling services are delivered through a 25-year contract with Biffa Leicester, which started in 2003. Like many councils in England, Leicester is under pressure from central Government to cut back on expenditure.

Its bulky waste report says: “The mayor and executive have agreed a programme of spending reviews in order to help tackle the significant funding shortfall that Leicester City Council has been set by the Government to manage.”

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