Con­sul­ta­tion on re­cy­cling cen­tre changes

Coun­cil aims to make ser­vice more af­ford­able

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by AN­DRé LANGLOIS an­dre.langlois@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @Sel­donMoore

TIP charges and the clo­sure of re­cy­cling sites are among the pro­pos­als in a public con­sul­ta­tion.

An eight-week con­sul­ta­tion started on Au­gust 28 to hear the public’s views on a se­ries of pro­posed cuts in a bid to make the county’s house­hold re­cy­cling cen­tres af­ford­able for the fu­ture.

The 10 cen­tres are well used and ex­tremely pop­u­lar, ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil, but the au­thor­ity says it is hav­ing to re­duce 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.

Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil cab­i­net mem­ber for plan­ning and en­vi­ron­ment Bill Chap­ple OBE said the re­view was a “re­luc­tant but nec­es­sary step”.

He said: “We have an ex­tremely tough bud­get to meet from April 2019 on­wards and this means fac­ing up to some dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions. 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.

“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. 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 coun­cil plans to ex­tend the op­er­a­tion of re­use shops, cur­rently at As­ton Clin­ton and High Wy­combe and run by South Bucks Hospice, so more can be re­cy­cled and sold with the money go­ing to char­ity.

Cllr Chap­ple said: “I hope peo­ple will see the rea­sons for the changes we pro­pose to bring in and I look for­ward to hear­ing views on the ar­eas where there is gen­uine and open choice.”

The con­sul­ta­tion runs un­til mid­night on Mon­day Oc­to­ber 22.

Ac­cess to the on­line sur­vey and sup­port­ing in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at A se­ries of drop-in events is also planned in lo­cal li­braries so peo­ple can find out more de­tails about the pro­pos­als.

Fol­low­ing the con­sul­ta­tion, fi­nal de­ci­sions are ex­pected to be made by the cab­i­net later in the year.

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