Row ignites over Wolverhampton garden waste collection payment
Council staff have been accused of ‘laying the foundations for fraud’ after encouraging residents to call on third parties to help fund waste services.
More than 7,000 people have already signed up to Wolverhampton council’s new paid-for garden waste collection service, coming into force in February.
But the Labour-led council has been criticised for advising residents to turn to loved ones for help if they cannot pay the £35 fee.
Conservative Councillor Udey Singh, who raised the payment issue at a full council meeting, said: “What this council needs to wake up to is the fact that due to individual financial circumstances, not all residents can have a debit or credit card, and further restricting the way residents can pay for a service – which quite frankly, should be free – is nothing but utter contempt and arrogance towards its residents.
“There are also serious concerns about the possibility of fraud, should a third party be involved with these transactions, especially where the resident is of an elderly or vulnerable nature.”
The council currently collects garden waste for free but this will come to an end in two months time. Residents wanting to take up the service can only pay by credit or debit card or with a one-off cash payment – cheque, direct debit, and other forms of payment are unavailable.
Potential customers without a debit or credit card had originally been directed on the council’s website to ‘ask a friend or family member’ to pay for the service.
Addressing Councillor Steve Evans at the meeting, Councillor Singh said: “Is this Labour-led council not only financially discriminating against residents who cannot be automatically accepted for a debit or credit card, as applying for a debit or credit card depends on your financial status, but in addition to this, are we not also inadvertently laying the foundations for fraud to occur by unnecessarily asking a third party to be involved in a transaction?”
Cabinet member for city environment Councillor Evans failed to shed further light on the payment process, replying just ‘no’ to his colleague’s question. He has since confirmed that residents will be able to pay with cash, but only in one payment and if they cannot pay any other way.
A total of 7,147 residents have so far signed up for the paid-for collection service.