Plans by East Sussex County Council to make cuts to household waste recycling sites to save money were comprehensively dissected this week, writes Paul Watson.
Uckfield town councillor Chris Macve took apart the proposals, which are out to consultation.
You can take part in the consultation. A brief summary of the county’s council’s proposals are given at the end of this story with a link to the county council’s proposals in more detail and how you can give your views.
Cllr Macve dismembered the county’s proposals, pointing out how one proposal would potentially generate more traffic across the Ashdown Forest, which Wealden District Council is trying to protect by planning policies to limit housebuilding in the vicinity.
Speaking at Uckfield Town Council on Monday (April 9), Cllr Macve, Trust Independent, Uckfield North said he believed the proposals would increase the likelihood of fly-tipping on roads and private land.
He said he had protested when the government introduced a landfill tax  and since then local authorities had been commenting every year on the cost of clearing up dumped rubbish.
“My immediate reaction when I saw this suggestion from East Sussex County Council is that this is going to exacerbate the problem further, if they either close some of the sites or introduce charges.
“It is going to encourage the not-such-good citizens to fly-tip.”
He said parts of the proposals were contradictory and others had no proper explanation.
Definition of household waste
Cllr Macve said the county council spoke of rubble, soil, plasterboard, tyres and asbestos not being household waste and had plans to charge for acceptance of bags of such waste at the sites.
“Nowhere do they say what household waste is,” adding there was no national definition.
“So why they have picked on those four or five particular items I don’t know.
“An awful lot of rubble and soil, particularly, is generated by households who do garden work and building, DIY work, as is plaster board.
“Tyres and asbestos are possibly slightly different.”
There were proposals to close two existing sites – Forest Row and Wadhurst.
“They say once the Forest Row site is closed people can travel to Crowborough or Maresfield.
“That entails driving across the Forest and polluting the Forest and upsetting the wildlife, which Wealden is trying to prevent us from doing.
“There seems to be a bit of disparity there.”
Cllr Macve criticised the lack of statistical information about the Forest Row site.
“They don’t say anywhere how many visits they have at Forest Row or the amount of material that is deposited.
“They say Forest Row receives ten per cent of the visitors compared to their busiest site at Hastings.
“That’s totally irrelevant. It has nothing to do with it at all, other than trying to justify their wishes.”
Cllr Macve also pointed to the new potential charges that could be brought in at the recycling sites.
“I suspect that like most of the consultations East Sussex and Wealden do, it is a foregone conclusion that they are going to introduce it.
He also spoke about the plan which would see opening hours reduced and said there was a lack of information.
“They seem to want to give the information that will confuse everybody,” he commented.
He said one of the consultation questions asks people if they would be prepared to pay a small fee to enter a household waste recycling site.
“They don’t say whether that is in place of, or in addition to these £4 and £6 charges [for soil, rubble asbestos etc] and what you could take in for your £1.
“Probably, not an awful lot,” he said.
Cllr Macve concluded by saying he thought the county council’s plans were a retrograde step.
“It will only lead to more fly-tipping, great expenditure in clearing it up, desecration of the countryside and not a very positive way forward,” he concluded.
Town mayor, Cllr Louise Eastwood, said she felt the news on household recycling sites came at a bad time for the residents of Uckfield.
Hit and miss collections
“Most of you will be aware that the waste service, or roadside collection [provided by Wealden District Council] is hit-and-miss.
“They tend to go down a street, collect some, miss some, collect some and so it goes on.
“The following week they will collect what they missed the previous week but then the problem is that one week is recycling, the next is household waste.
“I think they really need to sort out that collection before looking at this.
“At the moment, people missed are having to use household recycling centres to get rid of their waste.”
Waste transfer notice
Deputy town mayor, Cllr Duncan Bennett, said households needed to be more aware of where their waste goes, when taken away by a contractor.
He said people should ask to see a waste transfer notice.
“If you answer an ad in a newsagent’s window which says “waste taken – cheap”, if they haven’t one of those [waste transfer notice] you know where it is likely to end up.”
Private land worry
Cllr Bennett also spoke about the claim in the county council report that fly tipping was unlikely to increase as a result of the changes.
“They have obviously discussed this with West Sussex County Council, but have they discussed this with the residents of West Sussex whose private land probably got dumped on, as opposed to public open space.
“As we know, private land, you are charged for the removal of waste other people dump and quite a considerable amount, especially if it is trade waste containing hazardous materials, such as asbestos.
“I don’t think that’s the full picture.
Only get worse
“We only have to speak landowners here under the current waste regime without this extra burden to know that it is a real and present danger.
“It is an issue that if we go down the route described here [in the county council documents], it can only get worse.”
Cllr Macve later added that West Sussex had suspended the charges it had introduced.
Uckfield Town Council is to make its opposition know to the plans and urges residents to take part in the county council’s consultation.
• Wealden District Council is planning to charge for the removal of household garden waste in future.
• Earlier this year, our Saturday independent columnist, Observer, criticised the county council’s proposals, see here.
What is the county council proposing?
The county council plans to cut spending on waste and recycling by £720,000 and is consulting on the future of the service.
Town councillors were told in a report:
As part of their review, they propose to:
(i) introduce charging for certain waste types that are not considered household waste such as rubble, soil, plasterboard, tyres and asbestos at the household waste recycling sites;
(ii) Review recycling site opening hours against demand for services;
(iii) Consider the possible closure of part-time recycling sites located at Forest Row and Wadhurst.
To have your say, click here (East Sussex County Council consultation site)
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