Conservative councillors in Wolverhampton have criticised the Labour-run city authority after council chiefs forecast an £800,000 overspend in the waste and recycling budget, despite cuts to bin collections and the introduction of a garden waste charge.
The council brought waste services in-house last year, and in October 2018 bin collections were cut from weekly to fortnightly. A £35-a-year fee to collect garden waste was introduced in February this year. At the time, the council said that these changes would result in an annual saving of £2.4 million.
However, figures which went to the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday reveal that there were a number of additional costs incurred as part of the waste service restructure, as well as a “one off spend in regards to the garden waste service”. Residents across the city are still waiting for redundant bins to be collected by the council, with the restructure being branded a shambles by opposition councillors.
The £800,000 overspend forms part of an overall projected overspend in the Environment budget of £1.5 million for the 2019-20 financial year. Most of the overspend is due to a lack of income from parking charges, as the city centre continues to struggle to attract shoppers.
Merry Hill Conservative councillor Simon Bennett said: “Labour’s management of the city’s waste service has been a shambles. Cuts to bin collections and a new garden tax, which were meant to save the council millions, have instead resulted in a massive overspend this year whilst residents have suffered from a very poor service.
“Labour councillors clearly do not have a grip on this, and it’s astonishing to see £1.5 million of taxpayers money wasted in this way. Wolverhampton deserves better considering council tax bills have continued to rise over recent years.”