4 May 2010

Northumberland slashes waste services budget

Northumberland county council is set to carry out a raft of cuts to its waste service, including the removal of glass collections at the kerbside, in a bid to slash £547,000 from its 2010/11 budget.

Although the service was well received the decision to withdraw this scheme came as part of the difficult decisions the council has had to make 

Northumberland county council

The move, which comes as part of a wider exercise to achieve £16 million in savings across local authority services, is set to see residents charged for replacement bins, cessation of subsidies for home composting bins and reduction in street scene and administration staff.

Among the measures undertaken by the unitary authority is the withdrawal of the kerbside glass collection service in the former council areas of Alnwick and Castle Morpeth, which will be carried out for the last time this week (May 3-10).

The service currently caters for 7,600 households out of 145,382 households in Northumberland and the council claimed it was a “very expensive way of recycling glass” that could not be rolled out to the entire council area.

It is hoped that removal of the service will net the council £105,000 in savings for 2010/11and comes shortly after the council closed the Seghill household waste and recovery centre.

Closure of the Seghill site, which was managed by the council's waste contractor SITA UK, took place earlier this month and is intended to save around £120,000 for the 2010/11 budget.

Speaking about the glass service change, a spokeswoman for the council said: “Although the service was well received the decision to withdraw this scheme came as part of the difficult decisions the council has had to make in their efficiency savings of over £16 million for 2010/11.”


The council achieved a 38.34% recycling and composting rate in 2008/09, but, minutes from a meeting of the full council in February 2010 acknowledge that withdrawal of the glass collection service could potentially lead to a decrease in this rate.

In the minutes, the county council explains that by removing the service: “The county's overall recycling rate may therefore be reduced by ~1% which could result in stretched CAA [Comprehensive Area Assessment] recycling targets not being achieved and performance reward funding being lost.”

The CAA, which is the Audit Commission's annual indicator of performance for local authorities, has set a 43% recycling target for Northumberland in 2010/11, rising to 45% in 2011/12.

Residents are being urged to hold onto their kerbside box for glass recycling to enable them to make use of glass bottles banks and the 12 remaining household waste and recycling centres in the unitary authority area. However, the council has said it will remove unwanted boxes upon request.


In total, the council has identified £607,000 worth of potential savings in the area of waste and recycling – taking into account the closure of Seghill and the removal of kerbside glass collections – in an internal document seen by letsrecycle.com, which include:

  • Rationalisation of bring sites – £10,000
  • Route optimisation savings – £200,000
  • Reduction in street scene and administration – £21,700
  • Charging collection fees for Schedule 2 premises – 15,000
  • Reduce Recycling Credits payments – £24,000
  • Increase green waste collection charges by £5 – £60,000
  • Charge for all replacement bins – £20,000
  • Cease subsidies of composting bins – £26,000
  • Removal of kerbside glass collection – £105,000
  • Closure of Seghill waste and recovery centre – £120,000


A spokesman for the council confirmed that the charges for green waste collection were not set to be increased and would remain at £20 per 240 litre wheeled bin from “the start of March through to the end of November 2010”.

“Of the items on the list for waste the only one that did not go through was the increase in garden waste charges – all the rest were approved and have been or are in the process of being implemented in 2010/11,” he said.

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