*Update: the council has announced on Facebook that garden waste services will restart from 22 June.*
Reigate & Banstead Borough Council has not yet given a date when it will restart garden waste collections, with more than 95% of councils in England now reported to be offering some level of service.
Some residents in the borough have said on social media that they are turning to commercial waste services which are running.
The council is giving garden waste members £20 off their next annual renewal, normally priced at £65, to compensate for the loss of the fortnightly service during the coronavirus pandemic. Those who renewed in April or May have already had the discount applied.
A recent survey of English councils reported that 96% of them are now offering some level of garden waste collection, and 72% are now offering their full service.
Asked why Reigate & Banstead’s service was still suspended, a council spokesperson said on Friday (29 May): “We suspended the garden waste service at the end of March so that our crews could focus on the priority household waste collections at an uncertain time.
“We have experienced high levels of Covid-related staff absence and large increases in the volume of every type of household waste, as well as fly tipped rubbish.
“With more homes than other Surrey boroughs, the cumulative impact of increased household waste has been significant for Reigate & Banstead.
“We know that garden waste members have been disappointed and we will resume garden waste collections as soon as we can do so safely without affecting the household waste collections.”
The spokesperson also said that the council was following Government guidance on shielding and self isolation for those most at risk or showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
Reigate & Banstead’s prioritisation of household waste and fly tipping has been in line with Government guidance which ranks the collection of those as “high” priorities, dry recycling (which the council has also continued to pick up) as “medium”, and garden waste as “low”.
Asked about residents turning to commercial garden waste services, the council spokesperson said: “Anyone considering using a private waste carrier should be aware that it is [the resident’s] responsibility to make sure they are licensed”, and provided a link where this can be checked.
Throughout lockdown the council has been reminding people not to start fires.
The spokesperson said: “Surrey County Council have been open for garden waste disposal since 11 May. Burning garden waste can make it harder for people to breathe and we have been actively discouraging residents from lighting bonfires.”
Surrey County Council’s website says that residents should only use tips such as the one at Earlswood if “they absolutely need to”.
Ahead of the reopening of the tips on 11 May, a Surrey County council cabinet member advised Surrey residents to “make the most of” garden waste collection services.
Detailed information on how Reigate & Banstead services are affected by the pandemic, including information on how the council is helping vulnerable residents, is available on its website.
Among Reigate & Banstead’s efforts during the lockdown, it converted the temporarily-closed Harlequin theatre into a distribution centre for food and essentials.