People across the Borough are taking the opportunity to share their views on proposed changes to household waste collection services and the council is taking on board what is being said.
Leaflets have been delivered Borough-wide to some 91,000 households informing people of the proposals and inviting them to take part in the consultation.
Many councils across the country already operate their services in line with the proposals.
They would significantly help to reduce the need for cuts to other frontline services, as the council faces considerable financial pressures with an estimated budget gap of £15million for 2014/15 mainly due to funding reductions, rising demand and inflation.
Many people (more than 4,500 so far) have responded to the consultation which invites them to say what they think of proposals to introduce a paid-for green waste collection service and move from a weekly to fortnightly recycling collection service.
The council welcomes this strong level of response and is using the feedback received so far to address key concerns and consider possible revisions to the proposals.
Of those who chose to respond, clear and common themes are emerging.
Many are against proposals to start charging for green waste collection. A significant concern being raised to date is the level of cost, proposed at £70 for the first year comprising £35 for a wheelie bin, or a supply of green bags for properties that are unsuitable for a wheelie bin, and an annual collection fee of £35 for 2014/15.
Taking this feedback into account, the Council is considering reducing the first year charge to £40, which would include a wheelie bin, or annual supply of green bags for properties unsuitable for a wheelie bin, and a fortnightly collection throughout the year (except a fortnight at Christmas).
So rather than paying £70 up-front in the first year and £35 in subsequent years, households would pay a flat-rate annual charge of £40. All current users of the service are already paying for their own green bags, so the additional cost would be lower than £40 in real terms and in some instances may be cheaper than what they pay now, dependent on the number and quality of bags used.
The proposal to make kerbside recycling collections fortnightly is so far generally supported, although some are voicing concern about a lack of spare capacity within their existing boxes and asking whether additional or larger boxes would be available. In response to this feedback, options are being explored to ensure residents who wish to recycle as much as possible have sufficient boxes to do so.
No decisions have been made at this stage and there is still time for residents to share their views. The deadline for all responses is 5pm on Monday, 9 December 2013.
For more information, and to complete the online questionnaire, residents should go to www.swindon.gov.uk/wastechanges.
Paper copies are also available in Swindon at the One Stop Shop in Beckhampton Street, the Civic Offices in Euclid Street and the Central Library in Regent Circus.
After the consultation closes a full summary of the findings will be presented at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, 11 December 2013, when decisions will be made.
Cllr Richard Hurley, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Housing and StreetSmart, said: “We are grateful that people are taking the time to share their views and will keep listening to what people are saying as the consultation continues.
"A common concern so far is about the proposed cost, which many feel is too high. We recognise that household bills are rising and people are really feeling the pinch, so any additional cost is undesirable for many.
"Unfortunately the council budget is similarly facing increasing pressures and we have to make considerable savings, which are now starting to affect frontline services.
"However, we would not wish to ignore these strong views and are therefore considering making a significant reduction to the charge and setting the annual fee at £40 which would hopefully be more manageable.
“The proposed changes to household recycling collections have been more welcomed, with many commenting that they already only use the service on a fortnightly basis.
"However, we recognise some households would not have spare recycling capacity in their current boxes and to address this we are now looking at options for additional boxes to be available.
"It is important to stress that the consultation period is ongoing and these are only preliminary findings.
"Once again I would like to thank everyone who has participated in the consultation so far and remind people there is still time to have your say on the proposals.”