Suspending rubbish tip charges a ‘farcical U-turn’

Crawley Household waste and recycling site, Metcalf Way. Pic Steve Robards  SR1707716 SUS-170415-173028001
Crawley Household waste and recycling site, Metcalf Way. Pic Steve Robards SR1707716 SUS-170415-173028001

Suspending rubbish tip charges introduced in West Sussex last year has been labelled a ‘farcical U-turn’ by Labour county councillors.

Since October residents have had to pay £4 per bag or sheet to dispose of non-household waste such as soil, hard-core, DIY, and plasterboard at West Sussex County Council’s civic amenity sites.

At the same time hours of operation were reduced, while the majority of rubbish tips are now closed for two days a week as part of cost-cutting measures introduced by the Tory administration.

The Government’s anti-littering strategy published last Monday (April 10) includes plans to stop councils from charging for the disposal of DIY household waste as ‘legally household waste is supposed to be free to dispose of at such sites’.

A day later the county council immediately suspended charges until a review of Government guidance regarding charges at rubbish tips has concluded.

Readers took to the Crawley Observer Facebook page to welcome the decision. One said: “They shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place.”

Another wrote: “Definitely feel cheated, spent about £60 taking stuff to the tip and now it’s free because they were charging when they shouldn’t have been. Yes I would like a refund.”

Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) called the suspension a ‘farcical u-turn on this avoidable and disastrous Tory policy’.

But Crawley’s Tory MP Henry Smith tweeted: “West Sussex Council are right in responding to the Government’s aim of tackling fly tipping by cancelling Crawley Civic Amenity Site fees.”

Peter Lamb, who is standing down as a Labour county councillor for Northgate and Three Bridges but remains leader of Crawley Borough Council, tweeted: “It looks like West Sussex County Council now has a hole in its Budget. That’s what happens when you just don’t listen to reason.”

Meanwhile Geraint Thomas, CBC’s cabinet member for environmental services and sustainability, asked if the county council would apologise to staff working at the tips for the ‘flak’ they had taken from the public, and to residents for the ‘irritation, time wasted and confusion caused’.

County council chief executive Nathan Elvery, said: “In order to avoid any potential confusion for our residents in West Sussex we have decided to suspend all charges for these type of materials with immediate effect until the review by the Government has been concluded.”

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