TENS of thousands of garden waste bins are to be collected up from households across the district who have refused to pay controversial new charges.

Bradford Council brought in a £35-a-year fee for its brown bin collections this summer in an effort to raise cash.

But 55,000 of the 90,000 households who had previously been getting free garden waste collections have not signed up for the paid-for service.

Now council staff are to begin the task of collecting in any unused bins.

The authority says people are welcome to keep hold of their bins and put them to another use, and that it expects around half of households to do just that.

A spokesman said: "There are in the region of 55,000 bins in the district not being used in the new scheme.

"From the experience of other councils, we think around half of those will be put out for us to take away."

But an opposition councillor says she is baffled about what other uses people could possibly have for their brown bins.

Councillor Rebecca Poulsen, Tory spokesman for waste, said: "I can't see most people wanting to keep them for other storage purposes, really.

"I can't think there's an awful lot to do with them."

Portfolio holder for waste at the Labour-led Council, Councillor Sarah Ferriby, said some people might hang on to their bins if they were planning on joining the paid-for service soon.

She said: "People may decide that they wish to sign up for the service in future. If they don't, then they can leave them out and we will take them back."

Cllr Poulsen said she also had a host of questions about the whole cost of the process.

She said: "I would be interested to know what they are doing with all these bins, because there's an awful lot of them -

whether they are going to sell them to other authorities and raise some money.

"How much is it going to cost to collect them all back? Are the bin teams working on overtime at weekends?"

A spokesman for the authority said the unwanted bins which were collected up would be sold on for re-use elsewhere.

Asked what the cost of collecting them was, he said: "We don’t know, as it comes out of the overall waste collection budget.

"We hope it will be cost-neutral once the income from resale and recycling is factored in."

The process of gathering up bins will begin in the Ilkley area this weekend.

Households in Ilkley, Ben Rhydding, Addingham, Menston and Burley-in-Wharfedale who haven't found an alternative use for their garden waste bin are being asked to leave them out on Saturday and Sunday.

Unwanted bins in the Keighley area will then be collected between now and the middle of next month, weather permitting.

Areas in Bradford will follow in the early New Year.

For more information, people can call 01274 431000 or go to bradford.gov.uk.