A furious row broke out between councillors over plans to charge residents to have their green waste bins collected.

Barnet Council could start charging £50 a year for green bin collections under plans discussed by its environment committee yesterday (Wednesday, November 28).

The committee has been ordered to save just over £15 million by 2024 as council departments continue to feel the pressure of a spending squeeze by central government.

It aims to meet the target through a combination of spending cutbacks and extra revenue generation – and that could mean charging for green waste.

Brandishing a copy of the Tories’ 2018 local election manifesto, Labour’s environment spokesperson Councillor Alan Schneiderman said: “Where in the manifesto will you find reference to charging for the collection of green waste?

“I have had a look at it – it is not in there.

“Is it not really unfair on residents? You went into the election promising to keep weekly collections and since then you have been whittling away at the service.

“Why was that not included in the manifesto?”

Chair of the committee and Conservative member for Golders Green Cllr Dean Cohen hit back: “We are keeping weekly collections. The black bins are weekly; the blue bins are weekly; the brown bins are going in the black bins.

“Green waste was never weekly.

“This is going out to consultation. We are asking what residents think of it. It will come back to this committee for us to discuss.”

Cllr Schneiderman said there was no point in having a consultation if both Labour and Conservative members of the committee did not back the proposals.

But Cllr Cohen pointed out that the committee had to meet its savings targets and challenged Cllr Schneiderman to come up with an alternative idea to raise money.

Jamie Blake, Barnet Council’s strategic director of environment, suggested the proposed charge was fair because council tax payers who live in in flats do not benefit from the green waste collections.

Several councillors also raised fears that the extra charge could lead to an increase in fly-tipping.

But Mr Blake said: “Most people do not fly-tip.

“Yes, there will be a bit of an increase, but most people will go back to what used to happen – composting material in their garden – or pay a relatively small amount to have a collection once a fortnight.”

Cllr Alison Cornelius, Conservative member for Totteridge, pointed out that the council is not legally obliged to provide free garden waste collections and said other boroughs such as Enfield were looking to bring in charges.

Cllr Schneiderman moved an amendment opposing the consultation, but it was defeated.

The committee approved the report’s recommendations despite Labour’s opposition, and a consultation on green waste charges will begin in December.