Guernsey Press

‘Rubbish piling up due to bulk refuse charge’

A PENSIONER has said that rubbish is piling up on her estate, including in her own garden, because islanders cannot afford the new bulk waste removal fees.

Roslyn O’Regan outside her front door at Pont Vaillant Estate with the large items she says she cannot afford to have collected under the States’ bulk refuse scheme after new per item charges were introduced. (Pictures by Sophie Rabey, 33078544)

Roslyn O’Regan, 67, who lives at Pont Vaillant Estate, said she had been shocked at the new charges when she rang the States to dispose of a flat-packed wardrobe, fridge-freezer and a microwave.

‘I got the form and saw it was £30, but when I went to book I was told it was more like £90. I was absolutely livid,’ she said.

‘Other people on the estate, such as single parents, cannot afford it, so they have to leave their rubbish outside which looks messy, but there’s nothing else they can do. I’m getting to the point where I am ashamed to say I live here.’

Up until the beginning of this year, the bulk refuse service allowed households to have up to five large or bulky items collected for recycling or disposal for a flat fee of £15.

Since the new charging regime came in on 1 January, the flat fee went up to £30, plus a charge for each individual item, ranging from £30 for a fridge, £22 for a three-seater settee and £8 for a single bed.

Guernsey Waste operations manager Sarah Robinson said that changes were part of efforts to reduce the amount of taxpayer funding that it receives.

‘Charges were introduced in January for items collected through the bulk refuse service and at the household waste & recycling centre. These are for items such as televisions and large domestic appliances, which are only occasional purchases, so most islanders are unlikely to have to pay the new fees often. They are also set at a level that is small compared to the cost incurred in replacing these products.’

Fly-tipping across the road from the estate on Pont Vaillant. (33078552)

She added that the bulk refuse charge of £15 for up to five items was introduced in 2010 and had remained unchanged for more than a decade.

‘It was effectively just to cover the collection cost, not the processing or disposal of the items. A charge always applied for furniture that was disposed of at the HWRC, so this has also now been brought into line for bulk refuse.’

Mrs Robinson said the new system was fairer for everyone.

‘Under the old system, the cost of processing and recycling them was absorbed in general waste charges. So everyone was paying, whether or not they had items to throw away. The new charges reflect more of a user-pays approach.

‘As with other fees and charges, not just related to waste, these have been set to better reflect the cost of providing the service. Unfortunately, we can’t then tailor them according to everyone’s particular financial circumstances, but there is support available through other agencies for those on lower incomes.’

However it is understood that there is no specific support from the States to remove rubbish.

Mrs O’Regan said her only income was her pension and income support. She had saved the £30 she thought the collection would cost.

‘Now I’m going to have to ask family to take the items to the tip one-by-one when I can afford it,’ she said.

‘My neighbour is a single mum, she is having the same problem. You’re seeing it in gardens around the island, rubbish piling up because people cannot afford to get rid of it. They need to review what they are doing. What they had before worked.’

Guernsey Waste said in February that use of the bulk refuse scheme had dropped off since the fees were increased.

Mrs O’Regan said that rubbish, including a mattress, had been dumped in some scrubland opposite the entrance to the estate.

‘The fees encourage fly-tipping and we are already seeing it nearby. I’m sick to death of what the States are doing to people.’