Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Residents to be quizzed on recycling centres’ future

A HOUSEHOLD waste recycling centre near Ewelme widely used by residents of Henley could close under

A HOUSEHOLD waste recycling centre near Ewelme widely used by residents of Henley could close under cuts by Oxfordshire County Council.

The council wants to make savings of £350,000 and will conduct a public consultation on the plans from August to early October.

The site in Oakley Wood is one of seven county council centres and a final decision is likely to be taken at the end of the year.

The council currently operates the centres at a cost of £1.2m a year. There were 1.383 million visits to sites in 2008/9 and 1.081 million in 2014/15.

The overall budget for the centres is £4.1m. However, £2.9m of this is spent on the costs associated with treating and disposing of the waste brought into centres by the public — including costs associated with transporting the waste — as opposed to the centres themselves.

The other sites are at Alkerton, near Banbury, Ardley, Dix Pit, near Stanton Harcourt, Drayton, Redbridge in Oxford and Stanford in the Vale.

All existing sites are nearing  capacity and would need to be  expanded or replaced. In setting a strategy the council will also need to address the fact that Alkerton and Stanford in the Vale have limited planning permission and Ardley will be closed by landowners in 2017.

The county council is unable to charge for access to recycling centres as legislation prevents authorities from doing so.

A county council spokesman said: “In order to achieve a financially sustainable network of sites it is proposed that the future of household waste recycling centres be based on the following principles: a reduced number of sites; locate sites to limit driving times for residents; and locate sites as close as possible to populated centres.

“At this stage the council is yet to propose which specific sites may close or how many may close and acknowledges that capital finance may need to be used to build new sites to meet the above objectives. It is recognised that changes to the current network would take several years to fully implement.” To save money in the short to medium term the council may choose to cease paying district councils a non—statutory green waste credit payment based on the tonnage of green garden waste delivered to county council composting facilities at recycling centres.

In 2014/15 this amounted to about £500,000. The system was set up to drive behaviour change and subsidise collection costs during the roll—out and expansion of district council green waste collection schemes.

The spokesman added: “It is acknowledged that residents are likely to raise concerns about fly—tipping should Oxfordshire in future be served by fewer centres than at present. Dealing with fly—tipping is a district council responsibility.

“Evidence from around the country shows that with appropriate levels of communication about alternative sites and appropriate enforcement of offenders, rises in fly—tipping are not seen. Oxfordshire County Council would propose that any changes to recycling centre provision in the county are supported by significant and widespread communication to residents.”

Councillor Rodney Rose, the county council’s deputy leader, said: “We’re in the midst of a whole sequence of tough decisions resulting from having increasingly less funding from central government, limits on how much we can raise council tax and significant pressures on social care for adults and children.

“We’d obviously rather not be in the position of having to make these savings, although with planning permission and landowner issues it is likely that at least some changes would have been necessary in coming years regardless. If we need to invest capital money in new sites to unlock savings in our revenue budgets in future years we are willing to consider that — especially with convenience in mind for users of Oxfordshire’s recycling centres.

“This is the start of the process, not the end. We’ve not made any decisions at this point and we hope to hear constructive suggestions and comments from local residents in our forthcoming consultation.”

He added: “Between 2010 and 2018 we have made or plan to make £290 of savings with the potential for a huge tranche of new savings to have to be made once we’ve heard from central government.”

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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