Dear Sir,
Having discovered my next door neighbour is putting his garden waste into his general household waste bin I rang and spoke to someone at County Hall. I was informed that everyone is perfectly entitled to do this, as well as the fact that they can also put their re-cycling into household waste as well. It is purely down to choice as to whether you wish to re-cycle or not. The only thing you cannot do is put general household waste in your recycling bin.
I, for one, was led to believe that upon the introduction of the charge for having your garden waste bin emptied this year, that if you chose not to pay the £20 for 2015, then your garden refuse would not be taken away and that you would have to dispose of it yourself.
Clearly that is not the case – or rather unclearly, I should say, as this appears to be nothing more that a money making scam that the majority of us seem to have fallen for. I have spoken to several neighbours and so far not one of them was aware of this.
We had the freedom of choice to decide whether or not we wanted to sign up for the garden refuse scheme but were blatantly deceived by Durham County Council. In the scheme of things £20 is not a lot of money to many of us, to have our garden waste taken away. However, for some it will be, and for those individuals in particular, they are perfectly within their rights, in my opinion, to demand to have their money refunded – as are all of us really. There is no other word for it – DECEPTION.
Whilst it may be in the ‘small print’ somewhere, that the above applies, it has not been made crystal clear by any means, hence the people I have thus far spoken to, have all expressed their surprise and annoyance at having been conned into paying an unnecessary charge.
What further compounds this issue, is that both South Tyneside and Sunderland Councils do not charge for garden waste to be taken away. And as with Durham Council, they do provide bins specifically for garden waste.
I was aware of this fact sometime ago but took the opinion that due to government restrictions councils needed to raise funds whichever way thay could and therefore accepted that £20 was a small price to pay. Now, however, having been conned by the council that are supposed to be there to serve the people of Durham county as best they can, I feel somewhat different about it.
Name and address supplied.

County Council Reply . . .

Alan Patrickson, Head of Projects and Business Services, said:
“There is no obligation to join our  garden waste scheme which is run on an opt-in basis. Those who choose to subscribe receive a dedicated bin for garden waste along with a sticker to display on it highlighting they are part of the scheme.
These customers enjoy the convenience of a fortnightly dedicated garden waste collection, which also enables us  to recycle through composting.  Those that choose not to subscribe must dispose of their garden waste through other means, which may include taking it to a local recycling centre or home composting.
“While it is perfectly legitimate for a small amounts of garden cuttings to be disposed of in the general bin, so long as this does not result in overfilling, this does not allow it to be recycled and quantities are limited by the size of the bin.
We would always encourage householders to recycle garden waste and other trimmings but there are currently no plans to introduce a ban on any materials  which can be put into general waste.  
This new arrangement has been introduced to enable us to save £900k each year as we are no longer able to provide the service without a charge.”