- Meeting of Services Overview Committee, Thursday, 13th June, 2019 6.30 pm (Item 104.)
The Committee is asked to consider and comment on the attached Cabinet report.
The Committee received a report which asked that Cabinet consider the closure of recycling centre sites within the Chiltern District. At its meeting in November 2018, the Committee agreed with the rationale presented but highlighted specific concerns and requested a further report be presented which provided clarity on these issues.
The appendix attached to the report outlined results from surveys carried out at recycling centres by officers over a one week period between 13 and 17 May 2019. It was summarised that for most users it was a choice to use the centres and that whilst they had recycling facilities at home, many were unaware of the Councilâ€™s kerbside collection service. From this, officers agreed that kerbside collection methods would be looked at to promote the service further.
A detailed discussion followed and members raised a number of concerns. These included:
- A Member noted that the sites continued to be heavily used and the potential removal of recycling centres could lead to an increase in fly tipping.
- The charging structure recently introduced by the County Council for household recycling centres was already being misunderstood by many residents and removing facilities at this time could cause increased confusion.
- Many Members believed that the recycling centres should not be removed until residents had been educated on the kerbside collection service and until this service was promoted more widely, the centres should be kept. A member suggested a three month period be set aside to educate residents, following which the closure of the centres could be re-assessed.Â
- Refuse operatives needed to be fully coherent with collection policies as there had been issues reported where recycling had not been collected when placed under or on top of a recycling bin.
- Many properties in areas such as the High Street, Great Missenden had no frontage and small storage areas so further consideration would be needed for kerbside collection, such as very early collections.
- A Member suggested that given the high level of usage, and lack of public education the recycling centres should remain until the end of the Councilâ€™s existence (31 March 2020), whilst an education programme was undertaken. The new Buckinghamshire Council could then make the decision on the closure of the centres.
- A Member recognised that using recycling centres had become a habit for many residents and all should be educated to use the kerbside collection service as soon as possible, so that savings can be made by closing the recycling centres.
- It was likely that the new joint waste contract would not have provision for these facilities in order to make efficiency savings so publicity of centre closure and promoting the kerbside collection service was recognised as being key.
The Head of Environment noted that 400,000 container collections were made per week and the Council was providing this service as best it could, this included the collections from recycling centre sites. The Committee was advised that these centres were introduced at a time when there was not a kerbside collection service and many residents had continued the habit. Comprehensive information could be found on the Councilâ€™s website and the new customer experience strategy would also raise the profile of kerbside collection.
It was explained that by closing the recycling centres, resources could be reallocated to purchase a new refuse collection vehicle that specialised in collections from apartment blocks as these types of development were increasing across the district. Further, it was noted that the sites were often abused, being used by traders and often being subject to fly tipping. Members agreed that the re-allocation of funds for this purpose was positive, although the Committee re-iterated its wish to see a detailed implementation plan ahead of closing the recycling centres.
In response to properties with no frontage, it was said that a strategy could be introduced to ensure these collections were made prior to 7.30 a.m. It was emphasised that any complaints or issues with collections should be reported to the waste team to address to ensure the service was as efficient as possible. Members were encouraged to report issues by email direct to officers.
There was a general consensus among the Committee that a report be brought back to the Committee detailing a phased implementation which evidenced demand being reduced before the centres were removed.
RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to Cabinet
That based upon the information presented, the sites noted in the report are not closed following Cabinet consideration on 9 July 2019. The Committee recommended a further report be presented which detailed a phased implementation period, a resident education programme, and evidence that demand was being reduced.