Published: 06:00, 14 April 2021
| Updated: 15:47, 14 April 2021
It is a debate which has been running for many years - should people be forced to fork out on top of council tax to have garden waste taken away?
Or, should those who have no outside space effectively finance waste collections for those who have gardens?
Analysis by KentOnline has shown that of all Kent councils, it is people in Dartford who have to pay the most to sign up to the service at £90 for the first year, while those living in Thanet have the highest annual charges to contend with.
However, in Medway, which is a unitary authority, there are no additional charges for the service.
On top of a £35 set up fee, Thanet District Council charges £53 per year (a total of £88) while Dartford Council charges £46 for a brown bin and £44 for the annual service, adding up to £90.
A Thanet council spokesman said: "Our fortnightly service has proven really popular with 12,000 people currently subscribed, ensuring residents have the option to dispose of their green waste in an environmentally friendly way.
"Unlike many Kent councils, Thanet provides the service in-house. The annual charge is in place to cover the operational costs and the initial one-off set up cost for bin rental is charged separately, so there are no hidden fees."
She also said the council undertakes benchmarking to ensure pricing is fair and says the council has no statutory duty to collect garden waste for free.
"Many residents in Thanet do not have gardens and many householders compost at home," she added.
"Our fortnightly service has proven really popular..."
"Therefore, the decision was made that council tax should not be used to provide a service which many people would not be able to use."
Dartford Council has 8,000 subscribers for the service.
"Our charges for 2021/22 are an annual cost of £44 for the service - which is reduced on a sliding scale if you join partway through the year - and a one-off payment of £46 for a brown bin, which represents good value in comparison to other councils," a Dartford Council spokeswoman said.
Grass cuttings, flowers, plants, hedge trimmings, leaves and small branches are among the items which can be put into garden waste bins. Most garden waste collection services start on April 1 and run until March 31.
Residents in Maidstone can join for a one-off payment of £45 a year.
Payment is made online and when people sign up to the service, which has been delivered by MBC for more than 20 years, arrangements are made for a brown wheelie bin to be delivered. The council aims to deliver the bins within two weeks.
Approximately one-third of residents, or 24,000 households, were signed up to the garden waste scheme as of March this year which MBC has run since 2000.
Waste manager at MBC Graham Gosden said: “Our green waste collection service is very popular and is a great way to reduce trips to the tip, giving you more time to relax and enjoy your garden, as well as reducing your carbon footprint.
"As the weather warms up and people start getting out in their gardens again, it’s a great way to get rid of any garden waste.
"All the material is composted nearby and then used at farms helping to grow local produce.”
The £45 a year charge from MBC is the same price as subscribing to a waste collection bin through Canterbury City Council which also covers Herne Bay and Whitstable. Its service runs from March until December, and it has had 24,709 orders for 26,626 bins to be emptied during their 2021 term.
Residents in Medway don’t pay anything extra for their garden waste to be collected as it is a unitary authority. It makes 95,000 organic collections per week for food and garden waste, as well as 116,792 recyling and residual collections per week.
It is £40 a year for residents in Swale - which includes Faversham, Sittingbourne and Sheerness and there are 18,840 subscribers - and the same price with Ashford Borough Council which has 19,249 properties subscribed.
Gravesham Borough Council, which has 13,387 people signed up, charges £48.50 a year for a 240-litre bin but only £33.50 a year for a 140-litre bin.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council charges £52 per year with more than 19,000 residents signed up for garden waste collections in their region.
For residents living in Folkestone and Hythe, there is a charge of £48.40 per bin per year but, if you need a new or replacement bin, there is a one-off charge of £30.70.
There is an annual charge of £47 for a 240-litre garden waste wheelie bin in Sevenoaks while a 140-litre garden waste wheelie bin will be loaned by the council for £32 a year if a larger bin is too difficult for people to move. The service is provided to 12,650 people.
Tonbridge and Malling Council charges £42 for a 12-month subscription and £26 for every additional bin after that, with a limit of three bins overall. It has more than 26,000 subscribers, equating to just over half of their 50,000 eligible households.
Over the past decade, more councils have decided to charge for the service in England.
Grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, Harry Fone, said: "Many people I speak to are absolutely livid about these charges.
"Despite another year of inflation-busting council tax rises, even more demands for tax are placed on residents.
"Local authorities must ramp up efficiency and root out wasteful spending before plundering taxpayers' pockets."
The services operate on a fortnightly basis, apart from in Medway where recycling, food and garden waste, and general rubbish is collected weekly on the same day.