“Changes will be needed to the way the County Council’s household recycling centres operate from April next year to make the service affordable while maintaining the quality people expect.”
That’s the important message from Bill Chapple OBE, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment as the County Council begins the process of gathering views and opinions from local residents about household recycling centre provision across Buckinghamshire.
Many councils up and down the country have already made changes to their recycling centre operations as the financial pressures on all public services continue to bite. Bill says that the time has come for Buckinghamshire to grasp the nettle and consider changes that will ensure the Council can stay 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 more household recycling centres than 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 the current provision to make it affordable and fit for purpose. In the longer term, we have future investment plans to help both improve site facilities and plan for expected population growth associated with around 46,000 new homes across the County.
“With this significant investment and the changes we need to make to streamline current operations, I’m confident we can still offer a household recycling centre service that works for the majority of local people going forward.”
FCC Regional Director, Steve Longdon said: “As operators of the Council’s waste recycling centres, we are fully aware of the pressures facing all authorities up and down the country. We will of course be working 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 four public focus group sessions, being run by market research experts Ipsos Mori, to help scope some initial thinking. The views from these sessions will help to shape the Council’s full public consultation exercise, expected to start later in the summer.
To find out more, go to the consultation web page: www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/waste-and-recycling/hrc-service-review This review is not related to kerbside collection services or the smaller recycling banks operated by district councils. It relates only to the ten household recycling centres operated by the County Council. www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/waste-and-recycling/household-recycling-centres