A scheme to charge Aberdeen residents for garden waste collection has injected almost £740,000 into Town House coffers, the Evening Express can reveal.
Aberdeen City Council chiefs announced earlier this year households would have to pay £30 annually for its staff to empty brown bins containing garden waste.
That sparked a major publicity campaign from Town House bosses ahead of the charge coming in on September 1.
Now the Evening Express can reveal 24,646 have stumped up the cash, meaning the local authority has pocketed £739,380 in a bid to balance its books.
The council estimates there are 72,000 city households with gardens and 50,000 of those have their garden waste collected.
That means the take-up rate of the new charge is just over 49% – slightly ahead of expectations.
Around a third of 32 Scottish local authorities have now introduced the charges.
The council’s waste and recycling manager Pam Walker said: “It is quite difficult to assess the likely take-up rate for a charge like this, as it is new.
“We consulted with other local authorities which have introduced the charge and anticipated a take-up rate of just under 50% and we are pleased with the number of people who have signed up.
“Promoting it on social media and through the press has been important in trying to inform as many people as possible.”
Under the new system, only people who have paid the £30 fee will have their garden waste collected as of September 1.
Tamper-proof permit stickers will be placed on bins to show collectors who has paid.
Anyone signing up now will have to wait 21 days before their next collection.
The permit expires on August 31 2020 regardless of when it is bought.
“As a result of that, it is more advantageous to buy the permit earlier, as people will get more value from it,” said Mrs Walker.
She added: “As one particular part of this project, we have allowed for additional resources which will be available for six weeks to assist people.”
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That will mean the council deploys extra customer service staff to answer phone calls or emails and two staff will accompany collectors on their rounds.
Earlier this week, Aberdeen Central SNP MSP Kevin Stewart wrote to the council asking for some people to be exempt.
He called the charge “deeply unpopular” and said it was “simply wrong” for disabled people to have to pay.
Introducing a discount has already been dismissed by the ruling Conservative and Labour administration.
And Mrs Walker said a discount would bring an additional administration cost to the council.
“It is important to remember garden waste collection is not a statutory service,” said Mrs Walker.
“We would also encourage people to consider disposing of their garden waste using methods such as composting.”