Charging at the Dump?
Whilst the first part of Monday’s Waste Panel’s meeting was positive, the next item on the agenda was far from positive, and it had the potential of ending badly for Cornwall Council reputation. This agenda item was on how to save money from the Waste Management Budget. As the budget predictions for this service will result in an £1.4m overspend by the end of the financial year.
For some, saving money means starting to charging for certain things. In the Waste Panel’s report a recommendation was to start charging of disposing certain ‘non-statutory’ – the in-vogue excuse of not doing something – waste at the Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC). The proposals were to charge for disposing tyres, rubble, gas bottles and asbestos at a HWRC.
Currently, disposing of these items at the HWRC is free as long as it is from residential properties. However, our neighbouring authorities like Devon and Somerset County Council charge for disposal for these items. I made the point today that just because these authorities charge, it does not mean Cornwall Council has to.
For instance, Devon CC charges £2 per tyre for disposal with Somerset CC charging £3.30 for un-rimmed and £4.20 for rimmed. For rubble Devon CC charge £2 per bag, Asbestos £20 per sheet and Plasterboard £7 per sheet. The disposal of a gas bottle in Somerset CC starts at £6 to £35 depending on type.
I made the point that instead of charging for disposal you should instead ban gas bottles from the site. This would save the authority between £50k – £100k per year. The reason for the ban is because these bottles belong to the companies who provide them. By banning them it will force people to give them back to these companies, who will more than likely pick them up for free because they are worth something to them. Many at the meeting felt Cornwall Council should not incur the cost of giving these bottles back to the companies who own them.
When it came to the vote the Panel decided not to accept the recommendation in the report for charging, but added my point (As I am not a voting member) in the recommendations of no longer accepting gas bottles at the HWRC. There were though a few amendments of actually charging for these items, but luckily these were easily defeated.
Also discussed was the opening hours of the sites, with much debate on reducing the hours of opening in the morning, afternoon, or reducing the opening days. The Panel decided to help save costs to keep to the winter opening hours (9am-4pm) throughout the year.
Even though the Waste Panel made these recommendations, it will be up to Cabinet to make the final decision. So, we might end up with a charge for these items after all.