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Proposed cuts to green waste collections and bus subsidies raise concern

Environmental concerns over planned budget cuts were addressed by councillors at a meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall on Monday.

Green waste collections and bus subsidies were among the items up for discussion at the Infrastructure Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting.

Concerns were raised by a member of the public over plans to increase green waste collection costs from £35 to £65 per year, an 86 per cent increase.

There are also plans to remove free Saturday garden waste collections.

Cllr Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary’s), lead member for environmental services, climate change, sustainability, parks and countryside, said the free Saturday collection serves one in 60 households which ‘is not really equitable’.

She said: “I do empathise with the green garden waste subscription cost, that there will be some people who feel they can no longer afford to do that.

“But I do feel that, with our very low council tax, we do need to look at some things.”

She added: “You’re just going to have to trust we’re doing the best that we can with the resources that we have and this is where we found a saving.”

Councillors were also asked to reconsider plans to ‘review and optimise the number of subsidised bus routes’, which is estimated to save £100,000 in 2020/21.

Lead member for transport and infrastructure Cllr Gerry Clark said: “It would be easy to presume that a reduction in the subsidy would have a detrimental effect. It’s not

necessarily the case in all cases.”

He said a review is ‘long overdue’ and that some subsidies are ‘actually higher than the cost of buying a full-price ticket’.

“That is wasting taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Cllr Clark (Con, Bisham and Cookham) also said the numbers of people using some services are so low that the pollution caused per person is not actually conducive to being environmentally friendly.

He added: “The whole objective is to look at the review of the services to actually

optimise them, so that where we can save money, we will save money because that is the right thing to do.”

He also said the council plans to encourage operators to run smaller buses to reduce the carbon footprint, and to use electric buses – although he acknowledged these were not yet available.

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