A borough's Conservative group leader has called for the scrapping of a fee for collecting 'green' garden waste from households, as its local authority prepares to retender the collection contract.

Blackburn with Darwen Council currently charges between £35 and £40 a year - about 77p a week - to collect the brown bins with the biodegradable plant rubbish, as an optional service from March 1 to November 30.

Alternatively, garden waste can be taken to the tip for free.

Now the authority's environment boss Cllr Jim Smith has been authorised to put the five-year contract for the garden waste collection out to tender.

Blackburn with Darwen Conservative group leader Cllr John Slater said: "We have always said this service should be free.

"Why doesn't Labour pinch another idea from us and scrap the charge?

"This contract renegotiation is an opportunity to put right an injustice on the citizens of the borough."

Cllr Smith said: "The government has just said it is OK to charge for this optional service which incurs a cost to the council.

"It now covers the whole borough which it did not when it was free.

"People can choose whether to have this service, and can always dispose of garden waste free of charge at our household recycling centres."

In a report to colleagues he says: "The existing contract for the treatment of ‘green’ (i.e biodegradable) garden waste expires on March 31, 2024, and requires retendering to appoint a contractor for the period 2024 to 2029 (with option to extend for up to two years).

"There are considerable environmental, financial and social benefits from recycling/composting green garden waste materials, over disposal.

"The composting treatment costs of green garden waste are considerably lower than that for disposal by either waste to energy or landfill.

"The government currently has plans in place to compel all UK councils to provide a separate, weekly, food waste collection from 2025/2026.

"The council has considered the commingled collection of food waste and garden waste from this 2026 but has concluded that this would not be best practice, could not be offered to all households and would not provide best value for money.

"The contract would cover all aspects of the treatment/processing of green garden waste throughout the year (including the three months of each year when the council does not provide a brown bin kerbside collection since garden waste is still generated at the household waste recycling centres and other ad hoc sources during November to February).

"Residents will see no difference to frontline green waste collection services already provided.

"Bringing the processing in house was rejected as the council does not have the resources to provide this service."