Oxfordshire County Council has agreed to press ahead with plans to increase charges for DIY waste at its household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).
The council has had a system of charging for DIY waste running for about 15 years, but this allowed residents to dispose of their first three items for free. Waste will now be charged for at £2-£4, and will be managed by the contractor when a new HWRC deal comes into effect from 1 October 2017.
The move is part of a package of changes to services at five of seven sites, including shorter opening hours, offering a service for small businesses, and more reuse and recovery of items for sale.
Council deputy leader Rodney Rose said: “Oxfordshire’s residents told us very clearly that their priority was to see all the HWRCs kept open and I am genuinely pleased we have an approach to make this happen.
“We are only able to keep all HWRCs open in the medium term by looking into new ways to deliver cost-effective services.”
Councillor Kevin Bulmer spoke to MRW earlier this year about fears over an increase in fly-tipping as a result of HWRC charges.
“I like to think that most people in my area wouldn’t fly-tip if they lost their local centre and would instead drive to their nearest one. But then you have the problem of more vehicles on the roads, which isn’t good for the environment.”
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has criticised councils for charging for DIY waste, threatening to “take action” on those doing so, but other local authorities have said legislation is unclear.
What is clear in law, however, is that councils cannot charge residents to enter HWRCs but Bulmer previously told MRW he wanted a change.
“A bit more trust in local government would not go amiss. We are the ones delivering the Government’s savings at the moment,” he said.
Last year, the DCLG ran a consultation asking for suggestions as to how HWRCs at risk of closure could stay open without councils having to resort to charging.
It concluded that councils should continue to find efficiency savings rather than try to introduce ’back door’ HWRC charges, saying those authorities already charging should stop by 2020.