Council in ‘listening mode’ as household recycling centres review gets underway

“Changes willbe needed to the way the County Council’s household recycling centres operate from April next year to make the service affordable while maintaining thequality people expect.”

That’s the important message from Bill Chapple OBE, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment as the County Councilbegins theprocess of gathering views and opinions from local residents about household recycling centre provision across Buckinghamshire.

Many councils up and down the countryhave already made changes to their recycling centre operations asthe financial pressures on all public services continue to bite. Billsays that the time has come for Buckinghamshire tograsp the nettle and consider changes that will ensure the Council canstay within its budgets.

He said: “Our recycling centres are popular, well used and highly thought of with more than 70% of all waste received recycled. But the harsh reality is we can’t afford to continue as we are due to the financial pressures on all our services.

“Compared to other councils, we do have morehouseholdrecycling centresthan others, we are open longer and we do take most types of waste. But, all this costs in excess of £3 million every year to provide.

“I have the difficult job of getting our costs down but with the minimum of inconvenience to residents. We’ve seen other authorities look at the overall number of sites, opening hours or days and things like charging for DIY waste not classed as household waste. But before I do anything, I want an opportunity to listen to what local residents think.

“We’re very much in listening mode at the moment,” he added.

Looking forward over the next 15 years, the Council also knows some sites are not in precisely the right place to suit future population growth and that facilities and layouts at current sites vary tremendously.

Bill added: “What we have to do is rationalise thecurrent provision tomake it affordable and fit for purpose. In the longer term, we have futureinvestment plans to help both improve site facilities and plan for expected population growth associated witharound 46,000 new homes across the County.

“With this significant investment and the changes we need to maketo streamline current operations, I’m confident we canstill offer a householdrecycling centre service that works for the majority of localpeople going forward.”

FCC Regional Director, Steve Longdon said: “As operators of the Council’s waste recycling centres, we are fully aware ofthe pressuresfacing allauthorities up and down the country. We will of course beworking closely with Buckinghamshire during the upcoming consultation period and would like to reassure all service users that it is business as usual across the county.”

The process begins this week (16/17 July) with a series of fourpublicfocus group sessions, being run by market research experts Ipsos Mori,to helpscope some initial thinking. The views from these sessions will help to shape the Council’sfull public consultation exercise,expected to start later in the summer.

To find out more, go to the consultation web

This reviewis not related to kerbside collection services or the smallerrecycling banksoperatedby district councils. It relates only to the ten household recycling centres operated by the County Council.