Cuts to payments aiming to boost Arun’s recycling rates ‘quite shameful’

Ford materials recycling facility
Ford materials recycling facility

The decision to cut payments aimed at boosting recycling in Arun has been branded ‘quite shameful’ by council leaders.

West Sussex County Council pays its second tier councils a certain amount per tonne for any waste they divert from landfill for recycling or reuse.

However a reduction in these recycling credits is set to save the county council around £1.2m in 2019/20.

Arun District Council’s share of the credits is set to fall by £131,000 in the next financial year and the issue was raised at a cabinet meeting on Monday (February 11).

Gillian Brown, Arun’s leader, said: “I think it’s quite shameful the way they did it and the reasons they gave. We have a fine record.”

Recycling credits ‘not fit for purpose’

Last month Deborah Urquhart, WSCC’s cabinet member for the environment, described the recycling credits scheme as ‘not fit for purpose’ and said the council had to find new ways of increasing recycling levels.

She told members that, despite the county having one of the best material recycling facilities in the country, there had been little improvement in kerbside recycling rates over the last eight years.

Ms Urquhart described the West Sussex credits scheme as ‘unusually generous’ and also questioned whether all the money was being used to improve recycling rates or had been going into the various councils’ reserves.

Paul Wotherspoon, Arun’s cabinet member for neighbourhood services, described how that ‘certainly is not the case here’ with a number of projects being undertaken to increase recycling, which they had done every year since 2013/14.

He added: “West Sussex County Council is fundamentally undervaluing the work they [councils] are doing behind the scenes. What is unhelpful is the mixed messages we are getting from West Sussex.”

He went on to describe how with some saying bins should be collected every three weeks, Arun remained committed to weekly general household waste collections through its contract with Biffa.

According to an officers’ report the remaining £850,000 of funding Arun receives is at ‘considerable risk’ in 2020/21.

Cllr Wotherspoon added: “Rest assured, I, together with neighbouring district and boroughs will be taking county to task over this reduction in recycling credits.”

Housing support cuts

This was not the only issue where WSCC came in for criticism at Monday’s meeting.

Back in December the county council announced a reduction in its housing-related support budget from £6.3m to £4.6m in 2019/20 and then to £2.3m in 2020/21.

This will see charities such as Stonepillow and Turning Tides lose out from April.

A total of £750,000 has been allocated by WSCC to help organisations make the transition to the new arrangements.

Trevor Bence, Arun’s cabinet member for residential services, said he remained ‘worried’ about the impact of the cuts on people who relied on the services provided.

He added: “Nobody knows what the impact is going to be.”

He described the great work done by charities in treating drug addictions and mental health issues and said that the council would not have the expertise to provide these services.