New Forest parishes facing huge increase in New Forest District Council waste collection fees
PARISH councils across the New Forest are facing massive increases in waste collection fees which could see tax precepts rocket or community bins removed entirely.
New Forest District Council has told the authorities it will no longer cover the cost of collecting waste from community bins, with one having to find nearly £11,500, having previously been charged nothing.
The charges are set to come into effect from April 2024 as NFDC passes on the “real costs” of emptying public rubbish bins on parish-owned land, leading to increases of more than 1,000% in some cases.
The A&T has been forced to make a Freedom of Information request to NFDC after the council refused to provide a list of the current charges for parishes, and those anticipated for the coming financial year. An NFDC spokesperson said that information was “commercially sensitive”.
However, some of the parishes have revealed their figures to the A&T.
Currently paying no fees for their collection, Beaulieu Parish Council will face a bill of around £11,500 plus VAT for nine community and dog waste bins.
Milford Parish Council has been told its charges will increase from around £500 a year to more than £5,700. Rubbish bins included in this cost are on the village green and at Milford Pleasure Grounds.
Damerham Parish Council is also not charged for emptying five bins in the village, but from April 2024 will face a bill of £1,225 plus VAT; while nearby Ellingham, Harbridge and Ibsley Parish Council has been warned it will face a bill of £2,500 plus VAT for just one bin to be emptied.
Other parishes and towns across the Forest have reportedly been warned costs will increase significantly but have not been given clarification on the figures.
In its correspondence to the councils, NFDC stated: “Contracts which are no longer cost effective will require adjustment to reflect rising costs. Factors influencing theses costs include staff, vehicles and fuel. We are happy to share these calculations if requested.”
Beaulieu Parish Council chair Nick Hubbard said: “We are one of the smallest parishes in the NFDC area and represent one of the most important tourist attractions for the New Forest. To saddle the 500 or so residents of Beaulieu Parish with this cost would double our precept of £12,000 – what we currently charge our ratepayers – which we consider to be disproportionate.
“We cannot afford these costs but to remove the bins risks even further discarded litter, which is a significant problem anyhow. If we had to remove bins we are particularly concerned about the risk to ponies and donkeys who may pick up discarded litter that could be hazardous to them.
“The problem is that NFDC has not considered the differing needs of villages like Beaulieu given the work we do in supporting tourists to the New Forest.”
Parishes were also told that as a “goodwill gesture” NFDC will continue to provide free emptying until 1st April 2024.
Milford Parish Council clerk Graham Wells revealed the authority was facing a 10-fold increase for receiving the service from £450 a year to £5,700 plus VAT a year. Members agreed to seek alternative quotes from other waste management companies.
Milford Parish Council chair Anne Cullen said: “NFDC were absorbing this cost and they are now passing it on to the towns and parishes. So the cost is the same but, instead of them, we will be paying it.
“When it comes to year end, NFDC’s proportion of the council tax will look like they have done really well, and our proportion of the council tax will go through the roof.”
When asked by the A&T, NFDC was unable to provide details on the change of policy and how it was decided.
A spokesperson for the council said: “We provide some services to town and parish councils within the district. One of these services is the emptying of litter bins that are on town and parish council land.
“Keeping land clear of litter is the responsibility of the landowner, and so when emptying litter bins on town and parish council land, we are acting as a contractor on behalf of the town or parish council.
“NFDC is pleased to be able to support the councils by carrying out these services, but must ensure that we are recovering the costs of doing so by charging for our services.”
The spokesperson added: “We have reviewed our charging structure and determined that in some cases the charges historically in place have not been sufficient to cover the cost of providing the service. Therefore, to allow town and parish councils ample notice, we wrote to those affected to say that the charges needed to be revised from April 2024 onwards. These new charges only aim to cover service delivery costs.
“NFDC has also offered to discuss with the councils the levels of service they require to ensure we are fulfilling their needs and providing an efficient and good value service.”