The eight-week consultation aims to hear the public’s views on a series of proposed measures to make the County’s household recycling centres more affordable to run in the future.
The 10 centres are well used and extremely popular, however, the local authority having to cut costs across all its services as funding reductions in the public sector continue to bite.
National figures show that in comparison with other areas, Buckinghamshire has a much higher number of sites serving its population.
In addition, centres currently take certain waste like rubble, soil, plasterboard and car tyres for free where other Councils make a variety of disposal charges.
The county council’s cabinet member for planning and environment, Bill Chapple OBE said the review was a ‘reluctant but necessary step’.
We have an extremely tough budget to meet from April 2019 onwards and this means facing up to some difficult decisions,’ said Cllr Chapple.
‘There definitely needs to be changes, but my overall aim is to retain a service that still works for the majority of people going forward.
‘Looking at all the data available, the responses to our user surveys and what other councils do, and bearing in mind the views of residents at four focus groups we held in July, there are some preferred options that we are setting out in the consultation. Realistically, without these, we’re not going to get anywhere near our financial savings target,’ he added.
‘For example, there is a proposal to permanently close at least one site, with the preferred option being Bledlow. We are also including other proposals for closing two sites, Bledlow and Burnham, and to bring in selected weekday closures on days when the sites at Burnham, Chesham and Aylesbury (Rabans Lane) are less used.
‘We’re also proposing to introduce charging at all sites for specific waste that we don’t legally have to accept for free,’ added Cllr Chapple.
‘I completely understand that people don’t like being faced with extra charges, however, I have taken into account the fact that less than a third of waste falls into this category, so the charges won’t affect everyone and it also brings us into line with what other councils do.
‘Of course, there are other areas where we have genuine choice and that’s where an open and honest consultation is so important. For example, we’re looking for views on which two weekdays people would prefer Burnham (if this site remains open), Chesham and Aylesbury (Rabans Lane) to be closed on, and also what Buckinghamshire residents think about people from outside the county using our recycling centres, which is of course an extra cost to local county taxpayers.’
The consultation runs until midnight on Monday, October 22.
Access to the online survey and supporting information is available at www.buckscc.gov.uk/hrc-review
A series of drop-in events is also planned in local libraries so people can find out more details about the proposals.