Dorset council is set to spend £405,000 ensuring that its residents have access to Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) outside of the county.
The proposal for the investment comes after neighbouring Hampshire county council announced plans to charge non-residents £5 to use its Somerley HWRC from April 2020. (see letsrecycle.com story)
The Somerley site is located near Ringwood, just across the county border from Dorset. Hampshire claims 56% of the HWRC’s users are from Dorset, incurring Hampshire a cost of around £200,000 per year.
It has been recommended that Dorset’s cabinet budget £215,000 to continue free access to Somerley for its residents – currently the council pays £60,630 a year for the privilege.
Councillor Tony Alford, portfolio holder for customer, community and regulatory services at Dorset council, said: “This is great news for Dorset residents in the East of the county, who made it clear how much they value the site at Somerley and that they expect councils to work together in the best interests of the taxpayer.”
Dorset’s cabinet will discuss the proposed spending next week, at a meeting on 5 November.
The meeting follows talks between the leaders of Dorset and Hampshire councils, who have “agreed to pursue an equitable financial solution”, according to a report prepared for the cabinet.
“This is great news for Dorset residents in the east of the county, who made it clear how much they value the site at Somerley and that they expect councils to work together in the best interests of the taxpayer.”
Councillor Rob Humby, executive member for economy, transport and environment at Hampshire county council, said it was inevitable that some Dorset residents would find it more convenient to use the Hampshire sites located close to the county border.
He explained: “At their request, we are working with Dorset Council to try to find a solution that enables their residents to continue to access the Somerley HWRC in Hampshire, funded by Dorset Council, for a transitional period while they investigate the development of new recycling and transfer provision in the east of Dorset.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
Discussions are also underway to agree usage of the Millhams, Christchurch and Nuffield HWRCs for Dorset residents. These recycling centres will be run by the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) unitary authority.
Previously a reciprocal agreement meant that Dorset residents could access the Milhams site for free, with costs offset by Bournemouth residents using the Christchurch HWRC. Following the local authority reorganisation in the area, the running of Christchurch will pass to BCP council in April 2020, ending the reciprocal arrangement.
Dorset council officers have suggested that it would be “prudent to budget for £250,000 to cover likely costs of maintaining Dorset residents’ access to both Millhams and Christchurch HRCs”. It is also suggested that £70,000 per year is put aside to continue arrangements for Dorset residents to access the Nuffield HWRC.
New HWRC provision
The cabinet report states that “one of the major drivers to retain access to cross-border HRCs is the inadequate provision of HRCs in the east of the county”.
If funding was not provided to continue free access to out-of-county HWRCs it was feared that there would be additional congestion and costs at Dorset’s Wimborne HWRC, which is already working at capacity.
As well as financial decisions, on Tuesday the cabinet will also decide whether to back a recommendation that it investigate provision of a new HWRC and waste transfer station for east Dorset.