Charges to dispose of non-household waste are to be introduced at rubbish tips in East Sussex in an effort to reduce council costs.
At a meeting on Tuesday (June 26), members of the Conservative-controlled cabinet approved plans to begin charging for certain types of waste at East Sussex County Council’s Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) from September 2018.
The charges will only apply to non-household waste including: soil and rubble; asbestos; plasterboard; and tyres. Charges are expected to begin at £4 per bag or £2 per tyre.
Similar charges were introduced in West Sussex back in 2016, but were suspended pending the results of a government review.
The charges come as part of a range of measures set to be introduced in an effort to reduce the council’s waste budget by £720,000.
Other measures include the closure of two HWRCs – one in Wadhurst, the other in Forest Row.
The closure plans proved controversial with residents, who petitioned the council not to close the facilities.
During the meeting, cabinet members heard from representatives of both campaigns.
Speaking on behalf of the Forest Row campaign, Conservative Wealden district councillor Rowenna Moore said: “We feel that with this site overall, the county council could run it at less of a loss. It is not a big loss, it’s not a very big number overall in your budget.
“Therefore as local residents, who will be inconvenienced by this, we would appeal that you please reconsider this.”
Cllr Moore also asked if East Sussex County Council could set up a formal arrangement with neighbouring authorities to allow Forest Row residents to dispose of waste at the HWRC in East Grinstead in West Sussex, which she argued would be the closest centre.
Wadhurst parish councillors Anthony Dunnett and Graham Wells also spoke at the meeting on behalf of campaigners.
Both councillors asked cabinet members to delay making a decision on the closure of the Wadhurst centre until after the charges on non-household waste are introduced as the centre could prove to be financially viable.
Cabinet member Bob Standley, who is also leader of the Conservative-led Wealden District Council, said he supported both the Forest Row and Wadhurst campaigns and would be abstaining from the vote as a result.
Cllr Standley said: “I haven’t got a problem with the recommendations in the main, but it will come as no surprise that I don’t support [the closures].
“I think it’s the wrong decision. I think we should be encouraging people to recycle. A lot has been said about the decision being premature. I think it is. County councils are looking to see whether they can charge.
“We know that once these sites close they won’t re-open and if we could charge across all of our sites that would actually increase revenue and keep these sites open.”
Cllr Standley’s position was criticised by Godfrey Daniel, Labour councillor for Braybrooke and Castle in Hastings, as the council considered major cuts to its adult social care budget at the same meeting.
Cllr Daniel said: “I see Cllr Standley is brave enough to abstain, I hope that goes down well in his home patch. Not brave enough to vote how he believes or vote for the people of Wadhurst.
“If we were just dealing with this item there would be some wiggle room. But when you look at the following items, I won’t go into details on any of them, they are so horrendous in terms of personal tragedies for so many people and organisations that it is difficult to resist cuts to this particular budget area.”
Other savings to the council’s waste budget are expected to be found by changing opening hours at several HWRCs in the county. Initially the sites in Lewes and Mountfield will change to 9am to 4pm although other centres are expected to see opening hours change in the future.
The council will also be working on changes to its free waste disposal service for charities. While the council intends to continue the service, a new policy is likely to be set to define the terms of the service.