Changes to garden waste collections in Hounslow have been defended amid claims the service is in "meltdown".

Gardeners in the borough previously had old leaves, branches and the like picked up for free, but a £50 annual charge for the fortnightly collections was introduced this year , from Monday (April 4).

Hounslow Council says more than 9,500 people have registered to pay, but critics say the introduction has been beset by problems.

They say the changes were poorly advertised, the phone line was almost never answered and many of those who did manage to pay are still waiting for their new bins, bags and tags.

Dominic West, chairman of St John's Road Residents Association, in Isleworth, said: "The system seems in complete meltdown. They've had so long to plan this, yet it seems to have gone pear shaped."


Former Conservative councillor Liz Mammatt said the way the changes were introduced had been "shambolic".

"It now transpires that some residents are having to wait for brown wheelie bins," she said.

"The new green bags will be brown. The yellow tags for those keeping their original green sacks have not been despatched. Pity the collection crews having to cope with this confusion!"

Former Bedfont councillor Liz Mammatt
Former Bedfont councillor Liz Mammatt

Pamela Mayorcas, of Chiswick High Road Action Group, said she was still waiting for the yellow tags to attach to her green bags despite paying weeks ago.

"It's just a mess. P*ss ups and breweries very much come to mind," she said.

The council has said anyone who subscribed to the new service by March 14 and requested a new wheelie bin should have received one, but those who registered after this date may have to wait up to three weeks.

It said garden waste would still be collected from those who had subscribed, even if they had not yet received their bins, their yellow tags to attach to green bags, or their new brown sacks.

'We apologise to anyone who experiences difficulties'

Deputy council leader Amrit Mann said the charge was introduced to protect "essential services" amid funding cuts and had been promoted "extensively".

He admitted there had been some problems but said the council was doing its best to iron these out.

Hounslow Council's deputy leader Amrit Mann
Hounslow Council's deputy leader Amrit Mann

"The customer contact centre has been busier than usual and some residents have had difficulty getting through to us on the phone," he said.

"We have arranged for additional staff to help with the high volumes of calls we are currently receiving to make it easier for residents to contact us.

"We apologise to anyone who experiences any difficulties during the initial weeks of this service."

The new garden waste charge is part of wider changes to refuse collection in the borough.

The council is due to take the service back in house later this year when its contract with SITA ends, and plans to switch from weekly to fortnightly collections for general waste .

For more information about garden waste collections, and how to register, visit Hounslow Council's website.

Meanwhile, a similarly controversial new bin collection system is being rolled out in Ealing this summer, leading to the announcement that training will be offered to residents at a series of roadshows.