People in South Tyneside have been given more time to join a controversial green bin charge scheme – with only 20% of those with garden waste having signed up so far.
The plans by South Tyneside Council will see those who sign up charged £30 a year to have their green bins emptied from April.
The council initially said a reduced charge of £25 would apply to those who signed up before December 31, but it has now extended the deadline until January 31.
Council bosses say more than 10,000 have signed up so far – from the 50,000 green bins which were collected on a regular basis when the service was free.
The charges will be introduced from March, but opposition councillor Lee Hughes, who represents the Bede Ward for Putting People First, has hit out at the scheme.
He said: “It’s not a surprise to me to see that they’ve extended the deadline.
It was a bad idea in the first place, and the figures speak volumesCoun Lee Hughes
“The number who have signed up is not exactly great, considering the number of households there are in South Tyneside.
“It was a bad idea in the first place, and the figures speak volumes.”
He added: “Those who don’t sign up will probably end up putting their green waste in carrier bags and into their grey bins. That will create more problems. There shouldn’t be a charge for the use of the green bins.”
A council spokesman said: “Currently more than 10,000 people have signed up to the green waste service. This is more than we anticipated for this point in time. Neighbouring authorities who introduced charges saw a take-up of between 40 and 50% and we are on track for this.
“We are also seeing a number of people signing up to the three year discount to increase their saving.
“We are delighted that so many people are recognising the convenience and value of the scheme and are taking advantage of the discounted rates.”
Coun Moira Smith, the council’s lead member for area management and community safety, said: “We realise that with all the seasonal celebrations, applying for the garden waste service may not have been top of people’s lists of things to do. However, with the festivities over, now is the perfect time to think about signing up to this service – and save some money in the process.”
Residents are not under any obligation to sign up, with the council saying they can still recycle their green waste at the Middlefields Recycling Village for free. It is open from 9am to 6pm every day.
Those who opt to pay for three years in advance will have their green bins emptied for £65.
People who join the service after the deadline will be charged £30 a year.