COUNCIL bosses are to launch a new drive to get residents to sign up for the controversial so-called “garden tax”.
Fewer than half the Capital households who currently have their garden waste collected by the council have registered to continue with the service once the new £25 a year charge is introduced next month.
Now the council is to send out thousands of letters highlighting a new two-week “registration window” in a bid to get more to say they want to keep their brown bins.
Some households have already had their last free garden collection and the final ones will take place on Friday October 5 before the new service start on Monday October 8.
The council achieved its target of getting 46 per cent of eligible households to sign up and says it has raised almost £1.4 million - more than expected - from the charge.
But its introduction has been plagued by problems including a delay in the start date, fears over fraud and confusion over how people could pay. The council wanted everyone to pay online but later relented and allowed over-the-counter payments.
Tory councillor Jason Rust said: “The garden tax was not in the SNP or Labour manifesto and there are fears it will mean people just dumping their garden waste in their normal bin or fly-tipping. And the whole process has been chaos.”
Labour councillor Scott Arthur, who has spoken out against the charge, said: “The unpredicted problems with the registration process and the resultant delays must have added considerably to the cost of setting up the service.
“I wholeheartedly hope there are no further unseen costs or delays when the service goes live - not least any caused by the fly-tipping of garden waste to avoid the charge.”
The next period when people can register for brown bin collections will be October 1-16 but it will then take up to eight weeks before their bins will be emptied.
The council still says the quickest and easiest way to sign up is on the council website. Residents without internet access at home can use self-service kiosks at locality offices, internet at libraries or register by phone.
But additional staff are being brought in so people can also pay by cash or card at locality offices.
From next Monday, households who have registered for garden waste collections will receive permits - stickers to put on their brown bins - along with new calendars giving collection dates.
Garden waste collections will increase from once every three weeks to once every two weeks, all year round.
And the start of the new service coincides with a move to a four-days-per-week system with all collections taking place Tuesdays-Fridays between 6am and 5pm.
Environment convener Lesley Macinnes said she was pleased so many people had signed up for the new service.
“The new collection arrangements respond to residents’ concerns about the current system. Fewer collections after dark will cut night-time noise as well as keeping our staff safer. The new pattern will help save £500,000 which can be spent making further improvements to waste collection.”