Purpose of the report: Scrutiny of Services/ Policy Development
To enable scrutiny of proposals to change the service offered at the Community Recycling Centres (CRCs) to reduce costs and meet savings targets.
These proposals are due to be presented to Cabinet in November.
Declaration of Interests:
Richard Parkinson, Waste Group Manager
Ian Boast, Assistant Director for Environment
Mike Goodman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning
Justin Foster, Waste Contract Manager
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. A presentation was shown to the Board outlining key results from a public consultation around potential changes to Surrey’s Community Recycling Centres (CRCs). The presentation explained that Surrey’s residents valued Community Recycling Centres very highly, and that their biggest concern was that if Centres were to close there would be an increase in fly-tipping. It was suggested that savings could be made from the following options:
a. Reducing site opening hours
b. Closing sites per day per week instead of a full closure
c. Charging residents for certain kinds of household wastes
d. Adding further support to re-use schemes at CRC sites.
2. It was explained that fives kinds of non-household waste had potential to become chargeable items, these were:
a. Soil and rubble, a saving could be made from lowering the current personal allowance cap, after which a charge is applicable.
b. Asbestos, however charges would see little return and asbestos is expensive to clean up when fly-tipped, so it would be preferable to not add any charges for its legal disposal.
c. Plasterboard, however setting charging limits would be difficult to police. Large amounts should be charged for but smaller amounts may be accepted for free.
d. The quantity of tyres brought to CRCs has increased recently. Adding a charge similar to that of motor trade companies could cover their disposal.
e. Gas bottles should be returned to their supplier for re-use. Adding a charge could encourage this or cover the cost for this process.
3. Officers outlined some projected saving possibilities around general efficiencies, re-use schemes, charging models for certain non-household wastes, reducing opening hours and site closure options (in general terms, there were no discussions around particular site closures).
4. A discussion around the approach of the public consultation confirmed that respondents were able to give their preferences to the savings measures listed above. It was explained that further information on the consultation responses would be made available to Members.
5. Members suggested that as Surrey residents appreciate and value the CRCs so highly, any full site closures would be a very unpopular.. Therefore, if any changes to opening hours or site operations were to be made in the future, these would need to be effectively communicated with residents and users of the CRC sites.
6. Concerns were raised over the negative impact changes may have on customers and their DIY disposal methods. It was mentioned that fly-tipping continues to be a nuisance and expensive for the Council to clean up. However most fly-tipped material is non-household waste and businesses need to be targeted to reduce this practice. The Cabinet Member explained that he had met with the Police and Crime Commissioner of Surrey to discuss issues around fly tipping. The service would be working with partners to produce a county wide fly tipping strategy.
7. Ideas for the promotion and encouragement of re-use were discussed. The possibility for on-site re-use “shops” was discussed as well as ways of encouraging voluntary or charitable re-use organisations. A suggestion for the latter was to add extra signage next to site opening times with details of such organisations. Officers explained that work on re-use shops had been accelerated with a focus on the Earlswood re-use shop.
8. Other potential efficiencies were discussed. These included changes to staffing levels and introducing clear waste sacks.
9. The Assistant Director for Environment stated that he would provide the board with response numbers to the consultation including response numbers to each of the options offered.
10. Officers reiterated that £1.8M worth of savings needed to be made. Some Members recognised that financial challenges meant that service changes were necessary. If charging was to be introduced it was vital to communicate this with the public.
11. Some members felt that charging for the disposal of rubbish was more acceptable than closing CRC sites. A change of hours to CRC sites was recognised as the preferable option as long as this was communicated clearly with residents. Members gave examples of how they had visited some CRC sites and had been the only person using the site at that specific time. It was suggested that changing opening hours was a valid option and residents would adjust their behaviours accordingly.
12. A member stated that CRC sites should be charging for the disposal of tyres.
13. There was a short discussion around the possibility of having a second consultation. The Cabinet Member explained that the service was currently seeking advice on this. Members agreed that local committees should be consulted on the details of any possible changes to CRCs in their respective areas.
14. The Assistant Director for Environment thanked the board for their comments and feedback and stated these would all be taken into consideration.
The Board noted the proposals being put forward to Cabinet and provided feedback as required.
· For environment officers to provide the board with response numbers from the CRC consultation, including response numbers for each of the options offered in the consultation.'
Pat Frost left the meeting at 12.45pm.