Fresh calls to abandon cuts to West Sussex rubbish tips

Labour county councillor Michael Jones

Labour county councillor Michael Jones

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Cuts to the opening hours and days of operation at West Sussex rubbish tips should be abandoned, according to a motion put forward by one Labour county councillor.

West Sussex County Council is proposing to close Household Waste Recycling Sites (HWRSs) for two days a week at Bognor Regis, East Grinstead, Littlehampton, Midhurst, Billingshurst, Horsham, Shoreham, and Worthing.

While the rubbish tips at Crawley, Burgess Hill and Westhampnett are due to stay open for seven days a week, all the HWRSs are set to see their opening hours reduced as part of cost-cutting measures.

The changes were branded ‘unfair’ by some county councillors at a recent Environmental and Community Services Select Committee (ECSSC), but now Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) has submitted a notice of motion calling for the proposals to be dropped.

The motion, which is due to go before county councillors at their next full meeting on Friday July 22, argues that as the waste disposal authority the county council has a ‘duty’ to provide reasonably accessible sites for the free disposal of household waste.

Mr Jones has also raised concerns around fly-tipping and the impact of changes to recycling rates.

His motion added: “This council requests the cabinet member for residents’ services abandons these proposals and works with the districts and boroughs to provide a more cost-effective approach to waste to ensure the current services and days of opening at household waste and recycling sites are retained.”

Proposals also include axing mobile HWRSs across the Chichester district, apart from those in Selsey and The Witterings, as well as introducing a £4 a bag charge for the disposal of non-household waste such as soil, hard core, plasterboard, and DIY.

At the ECSSC meeting, Philip Circus (Con, Storrington) said: “I would ask the cabinet member how he thinks it’s remotely fair for Chichester, Crawley and Burgess Hill to be allowed to have seven days opening and for others to have five days opening.”

But David Barling (Con, Bramber Castle), WSCC’s cabinet member for residents’ services, replied: “I know that Mr Circus feels personally very strongly about this but he is wrong.”

He explained that the three mentioned were waste transfer stations that had to be open for seven days a week, and savings would be minimal if they were closed too, as the overall sites had to remain open.

He described the consultation, which received a record 4,899 comments, as ‘one the most challenging and exhaustive we have ever undertaken’, but said there was ‘no running away’ from the scale of the financial pressures facing the county council.

Meanwhile Heidi Brunsdon (Con, Imberdown), expressed concern about charging for non-household waste, and said: “Whilst I understand the increasing pressures on council finances I believe the residents of West Sussex deserve a comprehensive waste and recycling service.”

Nigel Dennis (LDem, Horsham Hurst) added: “I think recycling depends on the goodwill of the public as well as the council providing the necessary facilities and I feel this could be severely damaged.”

The original proposals would have seen every site open from 8.30am-4.30pm, but Mr Barling has now amended these, with summer opening times 10am-7pm and in winter from 10am-5pm.

The other concession is the creation of an enforcement team of two officers to support existing enforcement measures carried out by district and borough councils for an interim period of two years to deal with concerns around fly tipping.

The committee supported the changes to opening hours, but did not agree with closing several sites for two days a week.

Mrs Brunsdon also put forward an amendment saying that the committee did not agree with introducing a charge for non-household waste and asked officers to work up alternative proposals. This was agreed by the majority of the committee, although the cabinet member is not bound by this decision.

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