Potential closure of two West Sussex rubbish tips dropped

Hugely unpopular proposals to close two of West Sussex County Council’s tips and bring in charges for DIY waste have been dropped.

West Sussex currently has 11 household waste recycling sites
West Sussex currently has 11 household waste recycling sites

The news was announced at a scrutiny committee meeting on Monday (January 11) and are set to be finalised at a meeting of the cabinet next week.

The plans were announced as the council attempted to plug a multi-million pound gap in its budget and would have saved a total of £345,000 in 2021/22.

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But Tony Kershaw, director of law, told the meeting that the provisional local government settlement – how much money authorities receive from central government – meant a number of proposed cuts could be dropped. 

The news was well-received by the committee.

Chairman Andrew Barrett-Miles (Con, Burgess Hill North) said: “It’s good to see some of these initial proposals have faded away because a lot of them were unpalatable to say the least.”

Liberal Democrat leader Dr James Walsh put the success down to public pressure, adding: “I pay tribute to the public petitions that have been signed by very considerable thousands of people across the county to oppose those potential closures.”

Also taken off the list of proposed cuts were plans to reduce the amount of support given to public transport – something that would mainly have impacted people in isolated and rural areas – and to stop subsiding discretionary bus passes for thousands of disabled people.

This would have meant the passes could only have been used off-peak during the week and all weekend, and would no longer have been provided to carers/companions.

Another change involved the possible loss of the 11 County Local Committees (CLCs).

The committees meet a few times a year and give residents the chance to get involved in decision-making for their area, discussing everything from potholes and libraries to children’s services and fire services.

Instead of scrapping them, the council plans to review them later in the year, once May’s elections are out of the way.

Heidi Brunsdon (Ind Con, Imberdown) appealed to Duncan Crow, cabinet member for fire & rescue and communities, to make sure this decision was more than just ‘an election pledge’ and that it would not pop up again later.

She said of the committees: “Residents can feel part of the decision-making that the county comes to.

“It provides that closer link to the local people that the county council, given its location in Chichester, has to address.

“We need the transparency with our residents to know that these sort of committees and meetings are part and parcel of how they interact with us.”

It was a sentiment shared by Simon Oakley (Con, Chichester East) who wondered whether the changes to the cuts list would be a ‘one-off for this year’. 

Mr Crow said: “Cabinet are keen that the budget is sustainable.

“Probably the one thing we can expect is that future years are going to be difficult and that’s what we’re planning for.

“If they are less difficult than expected then that is a bonus.”