West Sussex County Council closed all 11 of its Household Waste Recycling Sites towards the end of March to reinforce the need for social distancing, protect staff and highway safety as a number of locations had been experiencing long queues.
This week Labour pressed the county council to take urgent steps to reopen its household waste recycling sites, with appropriate distancing measures in place.
Councillors highlight how since the closures they have received reports from residents about an increase in complaints about flytipping, while there are also concerns about an increase in home bonfires, with people burning waste in their gardens.
In a letter to the cabinet member for the environment, Labour group leader Michael Jones suggested the tip closures increased the risk of inappropriate things being put in household bins. He felt sites could be reopened perhaps with an appointment- based system which members of the public could arrange either online or through the call centre.
Meanwhile Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick told MPs today (Tuesday), he would be asking councils to plan to the organised reopening of sites and expected it to happen over the coming weeks.
Cllr Jones said: “If supermarkets and other shops have been able to introduce social distancing measures quickly and effectively, despite their own design constraints, then surely it cannot be beyond the county council to take the steps needed to open the tips in a safe and efficient way.
“The longer this goes on, the more the Tories at West Sussex are letting down every single resident in the county. I doubt they will be offering a rebate for all the services that our residents are currently paying council tax for, but aren’t receiving.”
Beccy Cooper, leader of the Labour group on Worthing Borough Council, added: “This is becoming an increasing concern for all of our residents, not just in Worthing but across the whole of the county. It is local council taxpayers who will have to pay for the consequences of the extra costs of clearing fly tipping and any damage caused to the refuse vehicles’ grinding equipment.”
A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We understand closing our Household Waste Recycling Sites has caused concern for some residents, however, these are unprecedented times. Everyone is being advised to only leave the house to shop for essential items, to go to work if absolutely necessary and to exercise once a day. Our opinion is that disposing of items such as furniture or garden waste cannot be considered an essential journey.
“We would kindly ask residents to store any waste that they would typically take to our sites at home until such time as we are able to safely reopen the sites. We would also strongly advise against burning any kind of waste in your garden, as bonfires can affect residents with lung conditions, such as asthma or bronchitis.
“We are reviewing how and when it would be appropriate to reopen our sites. However, we will only do this when we can be certain that the safety of residents and staff is not compromised and that this action would not conflict with the current overriding principles of Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.”
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