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Changes coming next year to garden waste service in South and Vale

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have set out plans to change the way their garden waste service is paid for in 2025.

The councils’ have agreed the introduction of a permit scheme from April 2025 which will include subscribers receiving a sticker for their bins to identify them as fully paid-up garden waste customers.

This kind of scheme is offered successfully by many other local authorities, including in neighbouring West Oxfordshire.

When customers sign up and pay for the scheme in 2025, they will be sent a garden waste permit sticker to put on their bin/or bins, which will help the waste collection crews identify which bins should be emptied. The permits will act in a similar way to a parking permit as a proof of subscription payment. All subscribers will receive a new sticker annually each time they renew.

This will help to ensure that only households that have paid for the service have their brown garden waste bins emptied.

The changes are part of the councils’ ongoing work to improve the efficiency and value of public services.

The garden waste subscriptions currently run via annual direct debit payments from the date people signed up for the scheme. Next year, the councils will stop taking direct debit payments for the service.  Customers will instead make a single annual payment by debit or credit card – so that everyone’s payment year will run from 1 April to 31 March each year.

The council will directly contact all customers, via letters and email, in plenty of time to remind them to renew.

Benefits to customers include an all-new online system so they can manage their account and change their details much more easily. This will also mean the councils can contact people quickly if there are any disruptions to the service, such as during adverse weather.

Current subscribers will receive notification of the changes with this year’s invoices. This will provide more information on the new system in 2025 as well as details of changes to their direct debit payment this year and the annual fee increase to cover the cost of running the service.

Cllr Sue Cooper, South Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “We offer a garden waste service as we know over 31,500 households in South Oxfordshire value this optional service. It also contributes to our excellent recycling rates – where only this month, South Oxfordshire has been ranked as the top recycling district in England.

“The new permit scheme will help enhance our service’s efficiency. The option for an online account should be easier for customers and will mean that you don’t need to contact us if your bank account or other details change. The new permit stickers will help us to make sure that only those who pay for the service actually get collections, which we think is only fair, since this is an opt-in service.”

Cllr Mark Coleman, Vale of White Horse Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Waste, said: “Our popular garden waste scheme currently serves nearly 28,000 households in the Vale. As with all council services, we regularly review what we offer and strive to make sure our service is the best it can be. I’m confident the new permit scheme, combined with introducing online customer accounts, will make our garden waste service even better for everyone.

“We do appreciate that any changes to a major service can initially be challenging so we will make sure all our customers are contacted and fully informed on all changes that are coming now and from April 2025. There is also a FAQ on our website with further detailed information.”

An FAQ covering all the changes is available on our garden waste section: South FAQ / Vale FAQ. The councils’ customer services team will also be on hand to assist with any queries customers have.

Residents in South Oxfordshire were officially ranked the best recyclers in the country, with residents in the Vale a close third, according to a government league table published in early February.

As of November 2023, there were around 59,300 live accounts (31,500 South and 27,800 Vale). Some properties have more than one bin, so this equates to around 66,300 bins (South 36,000 Vale 30,300).

View the recent garden waste report to Cabinet: South (Item 7) / Vale (item 9).