The County Council had been planning to reduce opening hours at Hampshire’s HWRCs from January, as part of a plan to save £98 million from County Council spending, but a recent press announcement from the Government has caused confusion over future policy which means that savings plans, including charges, may now need to be reconsidered.
Councillor Humby explained: “The Government compels us to reduce running costs, but at the same time seems to want to micro-manage particular details of how we provide the service. In view of this uncertainty, I am considering delaying introducing any further changes.
“We know the County Council’s HWRC service is efficient, well-used by residents and the most cost effective way to collect waste from Hampshire’s households. All the sites have an admirable recycling rate and Hampshire overall has an enviable record in the amount of waste diverted from landfill.
“We have left no stone unturned in finding ways to keep the HWRC service open as much as possible to residents while finding financial savings required by severe reductions in Government funding. We have negotiated a new contract, and opened up the HWRCs for small businesses to use for their trade waste for the first time, on a cost recovery basis. These are early days, but I am encouraged by the take up of this new service which is helping to meet the running costs of the HWRCs.
“We’ve tried to reduce costs in a fair a way as possible, by introducing charging for non-household, construction-type waste for residents. This means paying at the point of use for an extra service, as the County Council is not obliged to accept this sort of material, and doesn’t pass any additional costs to council tax payers.
“However, even though many councils have been charging for non household waste, or not even accepted it for some years, a recent Government press statement has threatened our savings plans by suggesting they may change the rules.
“So far, in line with residents’ priority, we’ve managed to avoid closing any of Hampshire’s 24 HWRC sites, and made financial savings by other means. But, until we get some clarity from Government ministers, we find ourselves in the perplexing position of potentially having to look again at our plans. In the meantime, it seems sensible to hold off bringing in any further changes.”