Eight years ago Merton Council introduced a free bulky waste collection service in an effort to keep the streets clean and reduce fly-tipping.

Now people will be forced to pay up to £30 every time they want something like a fridge or television taken away.

The council's cabinet member for the environment and street cleanliness, Mike Brunt, said the decision to start charging people was made because the current system cost Merton too much.

“Charges for bulky waste collections have been planned for more than two years, since the decision was made in July 2016," he said.

"The council has managed to provide a free service for many years but can no longer afford to.

"In increasingly challenging financial times we cannot continue to subsidise the bulky waste collection service, which is used by a small proportion of residents."

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Previously a household could book a free collection of up to five items once every three months. You could then add up to five more items to the collection for a fee of £20 per fridge or freezer, and £10 per item for all other items.

Now people will have to fork out £30 for up to 3 items, or £50 for four to six items.

When the free service was introduced nearly a decade ago, then cabinet member for performance and implementation Mark Betteridge said the cleanliness of the streets was one of the council's "top priorities."

"Clean streets lead to a sense of pride in where we live and there are many positive knock-on effects from this including reduced fear of crime and better quality of life," Mr Betteridge said in 2010.

“Offering free bulky waste is one way to reduce the amount of fly tipping in the borough.

“The cleanliness of our streets is one of our top priorities."

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Initially the start date was due for October 1, but was pushed back so that it would not coincide with the rollout of the new bins.

“Many other London boroughs already charge for collecting bulky waste," Mr Brunt added.

"However, there are other options available for disposing of bulky items. Many charities will collect furniture which is in good condition for a small fee, or it can be sold or given away for free via some websites.

"Some retailers will take away an old appliance when they deliver the new one. Alternatively, bulky waste can be taken to the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre in Garth Road in Morden.”

The service will begin on January 1, 2019.