Council could face legal action over garden waste rebates

A legal officer advising Folkestone and Hythe District council has warned that rebates for missed garden waste collections “need to be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible” to mitigate any potential legal action. 

Councils across the country have suspended garden waste collections

The council has previously said it will look to process nearly £150,000 of refunds, but the exact method of how to do so is to be voted on later today (20 October).

Garden waste collections in the Kent-based authority were suspended from 22 July to 27 September 2021, after taking the decision with its collection contractor Veolia due to the national shortage of HGV drivers.

Around 15,195 residents have signed up to the scheme, which costs them £48.40 annually for 25 collections every year.

This is taken in a single payment for the year in advance, meaning a refund is now due.

For the 10 weeks missed, each subscriber would be entitled to a rebate of £9.70, leading to a total bill of £147,390.

Legal action

In a report which will go before the Kent-based council’s cabinet later today, the council’s legal officer said the refunds “need to be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to mitigate any potential legal action that a subscriber may take against the council”.

It said one such subscriber has already commenced legal action against the council in relation to his refund.

The legal advisor also said controls need to be put in place to mitigate the likelihood of fraudulent claims.

Refund

The authority will now decide whether to offer a rebate by cheque, and application system, or reducing next year’s annual subscription fee.

Going forward, the council warned that whilst Veolia have put into effect a number of staff retention actions, the national shortage of HGV drivers “continues and staff absences due to the pandemic remain a relative high risk”.

Further disruption to the service due to the impact of the driver shortage can’t be ruled out, the council said (picture: Shutterstock)

For these reasons, at this time, “further service disruption cannot be discounted”.

The council said its officers will continue to review performance on a daily basis and work with Veolia to address any early warning signs of future potential disruption in order that the service continues to operate.

Garden

Garden waste collections have been suspended by a number of authorities across the UK in recent months due to the ongoing shortage of drivers.

While some have since restarted, many councils have taken the decision to suspend garden waste collections in order to prioritise other rounds because of driver shortages and self-isolation requirements.

The pause in service will lead to a number of claims from residents for rebates, which the council said residents are legal entitled to.

 

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