WINCHESTER civic chiefs are set to end the free green waste collection service after more than ten years.

The large green sacks will be replaced by a wheelie bin which householders can pay for if they opt-in to the scheme.

The council says the service will be better because the wheeled bins allow residents to dispose of more than twice that amount of waste than the present sacks. The bins will be easier to move and won't blow away.

The annual charge would be £39 for a 140-litre bin, or £59 for a 240-lire bin and households would be able to pay for more than one bin or share a bin.

Garden waste would continue to be collected every two weeks and then turned into organic soil conditioner.

The initiative is due to be discussed on Tuesday at the health and environment policy committee with a decision at Cabinet on Thursday July 9. If approved, the new scheme would be introduced in February 2021.

The council points out that it is among the last to provide a free service. Nine out the 10 neighbouring councils currently charge for the service.

The council held a public consultation last December asking for residents’ views on the preferred options to balance the council budget, which received over 3,000 comments. Some 55 per cent agreed with a chargeable garden waste scheme.

It says it will be charging nearly £8 less for the £140L bin than the average price across Hampshire and the bins will be free. The bins will cost the council around £400,000.

Civic chiefs estimate than some 18,000 households will join the scheme.

Composters are available via the city council for £19 to help anyone who wants to dispose of their garden waste at home.

Cllr Martin Tod, Cabinet lead for service transformation, said: “The council was already facing a difficult financial situation and Covid-19 has added to this predicted budget shortfall. By making the garden waste service self-funding, the city council will be able to continue to provide it to those that want it and help plug this gap.

"Despite these pressures, we believe we’ve come up with a good value plan for a better garden waste service for anyone who wants to opt in. The new bins hold much more so we won’t all have to spend so much time in queues at the recycling centre. Unlike the current bags, they stop garden waste getting soaked through in the rain, they don’t blow away, and are also much easier to manage and move about when they’re full.

“We’re one of the last councils in Hampshire to start charging and we’ve looked closely to see who’s doing the best job and how we can learn from what they do. Residents will also continue to have other options. We will keep offering composting bins for £19 and, of course, if you’re prepared to book a place and queue, it is still currently free to take your garden waste to the Household Waste Recycling Centre.”