Buckinghamshire County Council has agreed to controversial changes in its household recycling centre service including charging for the disposal of ‘non-household’ waste.
The changes, made following a public consultation, analysis and survey information, will see three of the council’s recycling centres reduce opening hours from seven to five days a week with another centre set to be permanently closed.
The council said that while it recognised the changes may inconvenience residents, the closures are ‘unfortunately necessary’ to allow the council to make vital cost savings to its budget.
Bill Chapple, cabinet member for Planning & Environment, said: ‘The changes we are making to the household recycling centre service have been very carefully considered so that they make as little disruption as possible to residents across the county as a whole.
‘However, I do accept that some of the changes, especially permanent closure of a site, will have an impact on residents living in that locality.’
The bulk of the changes, estimated to make cost savings of £1.25m, will come from introducing charges at Buckingham’s household recycling centres for anything classed as ‘non-household waste’.
This includes waste resulting from the construction or demolition of homes, and waste resulting from garden landscaping. However, all green garden waste will still be accepted without charge.
Other changes include closing its Aylesbury, Chesham and Burnham household recycling centres on Wednesdays and Thursdays and permanently closing its Bledlow centre, with the Burnham centre also set to close if the changes prove insufficient.
Most of the changes will be phased in from 1 April 2019, while the Burnham centre will close from 30 September 2019 subject to a financial review.
The council has recognised concerns that changes to its household recycling centre service might lead to a rise in fly-tipping.
To tackle this risk, the council may introduce additional preventative powers for the county’s waste enforcement service if any increase in fly-tipping is identified.
‘I’m aware that there is widespread concern that the changes agreed today will cause more fly tipping,’ Chapple added. ‘But evidence from around the country says otherwise – ordinary householders don’t suddenly become criminals because changes are made at their local tip.
‘However, we have zero tolerance of fly-tipping, and will take immediate action if there’s any sign of an increase due to these changes.’
Buckinghamshire County Council follows other councils in looking to reduce the opening hours of its household recycling centres in an attempt to make savings.
Lancashire County Council is currently considering closing seven of its fifteen sites on two weekdays as part of a package of changes which will save the authority £734,000 a year.