OPPOSITION councillors today voiced fears of trouble ahead as the controversial “garden tax” comes into force.
Introduction of the £25 a year charge for brown bin collections coincides with a shake-up of all kerbside collections to fit a new four-day pattern.
The run-up to the new scheme has been dogged by confusion over registration and incorrect letters being sent out by the council.
A total of 56,028 households have signed up for the new garden waste collection service – fewer than half those eligible.
And there have been warnings that those who have opted not to pay the new charge may end up fly-tipping or putting their garden waste in their other bins.
Tory councillor Jason Rust said: “The fact that communication to date has been rather shambolic doesn’t instil much confidence for residents.
“We’ve seen in the past there have been issues when new routes have to be introduced. I would hope that won’t be the case this time, but given what has happened so far I’m not holding my breath.
“And we have had predictions since the outset that there could be misuse of other bins and people just dumping their garden waste, which will cause further problems.”
Green environment spokesman Steve Burgess also voiced concern. He said: “The months leading up to the brown bin charge have caused some real paperwork headaches which does not bode well for the charge going live.
“Throughout this process I have highlighted potential problems with increased fly-tipping and disputes between neighbours, especially in blocks of flats, with bins being used communally which only one resident has paid for. It is why Green councillors voted against the charge.
“Now that charging is here it is vital the council monitors use very carefully and does not hesitate to change tack if some of those fears are borne out.”
But environment convener Lesley Macinnes defended the new charge. She said: “This week will see the commencement of a new, improved fortnightly garden waste service for more than 56,000 households across the city.
“By introducing a charge we have been able to continue providing collections – unlike some other local authorities – while making savings of almost £1.4m towards the services that matter most to the residents of Edinburgh.”
She said she was pleased so many people had signed up and urged those who had not to do so during the current registration window, which closes at 12pm on 16 October.”
Cllr Macinnes continued: “As garden waste collections will be stopping for those who have chosen not to register, we do acknowledge the risk of fly-tipping, if a small minority of people choose to dispose of their garden waste illegally, though I’m reassured that this hasn’t been the case for other local authorities in the same situation.
“I’m confident that our three household waste recycling centres have the capacity to handle any garden waste from those who choose not to use the new service.”