Buckinghamshire county council will consider closing two of its ten household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) – as well as the potential introduction of charges for some types of waste at remaining sites.
A final list of proposals have been drawn up in a bid to cut the cost of the county’s HWRC service, with a target to reduce spending by up to £1.2 million. The ten sites are operated by FCC Environment through a contract with the council.
Options for the potential service changes were consulted on in the summer and received over 6,000 resident responses.
The council says that following the consultation, a “considerable amount of work has been carried out” to finalise the proposals to achieve the cost savings whilst also maintaining the quality of services.
Councillors will meet on January 7 to approve the final measures that may be taken forward.
The proposals include introducing charges for the receipt of construction and demolition waste, which will be set at a proposed level of £2.50 per 25 litre bag*, as well as £4 for tyres, £2.50 per 25 litre bag of soil and £10 “per equivalent size to a door 2m x 1m” of ‘chargeable’ wood.
Other proposals being considered include reduced opening times on two sites (Rabans Lane, Chesham and Burnham) from seven to five days per week operations, as well as closing its Burnham site permanently in September 2019, and its HWRC at Bledlow.
According to the council, the Bledlow site has the fewest visitors of all of its facilities, 32% of whom are from Oxfordshire due to the site’s location close to the border with the county.
According to a report into the consultation responses published by the council a ‘majority’ of respondents are in favour of charging people from outside the borough of using the centres, and introducing fees for construction and demolition waste.
The vast majority of responses, however, were in favour of reducing site opening hours and days, as opposed to site closures. Other respondents expressed concerns that increased charging will lead to more fly-tipping in the area.
“A clear message is that residents would prefer no reductions in the service as it stands, and this feeling is strongest when site closures are discussed,” the summary of responses stated.
It added: “There is a clear understanding of the need to save money, but analysis of comments suggest many respondents are willing to pay more and/or want the Council to find the money from other sources.”
Commenting on the proposals, Bill Chapple OBE, the council’s cabinet member for planning & environment, said that while he understands residents don’t want sites to be closed, ‘hard decisions’ are needed to keep services on budget.
“Unfortunately in these financially challenging times the council has to take responsibility and make really hard decisions that will allow us to continue providing the essential services on which many of our more vulnerable residents rely,” he explained.
Mr Chapple added: “The proposals that are going before Cabinet on 7 January are the result of much careful thought, and represent a package of measures that will result in significant cost savings while at the same time making as little difference to the way the average resident uses our household recycling centre service as possible.”
*[Figure amended 3/01/2019]