Council backs down on green waste system

A new green waste voucher scheme for Macedon Ranges’ residents has been put on hold until next year after a public backlash.

Council changed its service last month just as spring clean-ups got under way for the upcoming fire season.

Two vouchers were sent out to householders with August rates notices, entitling ratepayers to get rid of two small trailer-loads of green waste free at transfer stations each year, starting September 1. The new system replaces a free year-round green waste disposal service.

The change has been met with a barrage of criticism from residents claiming there was a lack of consultation over the introduction of an inferior service.

Councillors have decided to postpone the start date of the new scheme until January 1 next year “to assist ratepayers and residents with their spring property clean-ups”.

Councillor Russell Mowatt, who last week put forward a notice of motion to hold off the new green waste system, chalked up the reversal as a “win for the community”.

“I believe it is important to monitor the introduction of the fees for green waste, and capture feedback from the residents’ complaints or approval, to ensure we are engaging and listening to the community,” he said. “As a council we must be seen as using the continuous improvement process to consistently strive to improve our service according to the highest standards.”

But council’s assets and operations director Dale Thornton said the new system would still benefit residents.

“The people we’ve had the most opposition from are commercial operators and users from outside the shire but, for our residential ratepayers, we still believe it’s a fair system,” Mr Thornton said.

Clarkfield resident Andrew Fletcher was one of a number of residents who called on the council to re-visit its new scheme.

“This year alone, I have made five trips to the Romsey transfer station … and this is not an unusual year,” Mr Fletcher wrote in a letter to the editor.

“After the vouchers for the year have been used, and rather than pay a fee, irresponsible people will resort to roadside dumping, which is already a blight on the shire, undoubtedly increasing the fuel load for the bushfire season.”

Mr Fletcher said he lives on about 11 hectares, with many mature eucalypts that shed leaves and branches during hot months and when there are high winds, meaning he requires a continual clean-up regime.

Residents will need to show photographic proof of residence to use the council’s green waste service from next year.

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