Threat of council retaliation over cross-border waste charges scheme

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Somerley waste centre
Hampshire County Council HQ in Winchester

NEW FOREST people could be charged for using Dorset recycling centres in retaliation for Hampshire County Council deciding to make non-residents pay for using its waste facilities, a councillor has warned.

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New Milton residents, for example, could end up facing a fee to use the waste centre at Wilverley Road in Christchurch, while locals on the other side of the border contribute for visiting the Somerley waste centre, near Ringwood.

The caution came from Verwood Cllr Toni Coombs, a Conservative who spoke against the £5 fee for non-Hampshire residents when it was rubber-stamped on Monday by fellow Tory Cllr Rob Humby, HCC’s cabinet member for environment and transport.

She claimed to have the backing of the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole shadow authority, which will merge the three currently separate councils to become a unitary body in April next year. At the moment Dorset waste centres are free to all.

“The introduction of charging by Hampshire will have a devastating effect on residents of Dorset who use the Somerley site,” Cllr Coombs said.

“Over 50% of use on that site comes from Dorset. It’s the site that all my residents use because it’s within a mile of the town.

“We have the effect of Hampshire residents using the facility at Christchurch. The Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole shadow authority has emailed Hampshire in support of the points I made and they will have to look at their cross-border arrangements.”

Cllr Coombs added she was not against Hampshire recouping the cost of non-resident people using its waste centres. But she wanted the two counties’ authorities to make a financial deal to avoid the expense falling on individuals.

She added: “They agreed the recommendations as per the agenda but I gained a small concession that they will consult with Dorset about how that charge will be implemented.”

Under the approved scheme, Hampshire residents will need to sign up online for a special permit to avoid paying £5 every time they visit a waste centre, including Efford near Lymington and Marchwood.

Set to take effect from January 2020, it will involve installing number-plate recognition technology to check for unauthorised visitors.

Cllr Rob Humby defended charging as a way of funding a secure future for Hampshire’s 24 waste centres, which he said made up one of the biggest networks in the country.

He said last week: “HWRCs are the most efficient and cost effective way of recycling and it’s important that we do everything we can to maintain our network of sites across Hampshire.”

But after representations, he told the A&T the next day: “I look forward to working alongside Dorset County Council at an executive-member level going forward so any issues can be addressed as changes are implemented.”

The new policy also adds a £15 charge for Hampshire residents using vans or trailers to drop off waste, allowing them 12 visits over a year. Currently people can apply free for the same type of permit which lasts three years.

A report to Cllr Humby added that controversial charges will remain for waste such as asbestos, plasterboard, soil and rubble – despite a government ban on payments for rubbish from normal household DIY work.

About 4-million visits are made to Hampshire’s waste centres each year, an average of more than 400 daily trips per site.

HCC is looking for more ways to close a £140m hole in its finances by April next year in the face of shrinking funds from central government.

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