Residents had to pay £4 per bag or sheet for soil, hard core, DIY, and plasterboard at Household Waste and Recycling Sites (HWRSs) from October 2016 until charges were suspended in April on a temporary basis.
This was due to the publication of the Government’s Anti-Littering Strategy, as ministers signalled their intention to review HWRS charging policy and law later in the year.
However this review appears to have been pushed back without a clear timescale.
Now Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for the environment, has taken the decision not to reinstate the charges.
She said: “We said to our residents that we would suspend charging until the Government clarifies its position on the matter. It is not expected that Government will be in a position to do this for some time so we have taken the step to confirm we will not charge and look for savings in other ways.”
The council said it will continue its drive to increase recycling in order to drive down the amount that ends up in landfill sites and put material into good use.
Cllr Urquhart added: “We throw away £3m of recycling material in our black bag waste each year. Our focus will continue to be on encouraging residents to reuse and recycle more.”
Charges for disposing of van and car tyres will remain in place.
According to an officers’ report: “The council will review its charging policy from time to time, particularly if and when there is future clarity and a subsequent change in law.”
The charges were unveiled at the same time as all HWRS saw their hours of operation reduced, while all but three centres were closed for two days a week.
These cost-cutting measures were anticipated to save the council £2million a year.
Charges were anticipated to save the council £1.16m, but to mitigate concerns about a potential increase in fly-tipping a sum of £137,264 was allocated for two enforcement officers, but these posts are vacant, so the loss of savings is £1.02m.
Anticipated savings was reduced by £280,000 during the 2017/18 budget process to reflect current demand, so the net impact of the decision ‘creates pressure’ of £732,086 on the budget.
Officers added: “Options for realising alternative savings from the service, with a view to minimising any impact on West Sussex Residents, is being considered as part of the Waste Team work programme and will be shared with members in due course.”