Opening hours at household waste recycling centres across Lancashire will be slashed, if new proposals are accepted.
A review of the service due to be presented to Lancashire County Council’s Internal Scrutiny Committee on Friday recommends reducing the operation of seven out of the county’s 15 sites from seven to five days a week, although all would remain open at weekends.
It also recommends changing opening hours at all sites from 9am to 5pm, reflecting surveys showing that visitor numbers are “relatively low” from 8am to 9am, and after 5pm. Jobs could also be lost as the review recommends reducing staff numbers at four HWRCs to achieve “consistency” in staffing across the sites.
The Internal Scrutiny Committee is set to provide feedback to the council’s deputy leader, who is responsible for waste management. County Hall says that if accepted, the plans to save Â£734,000 could form part of the council’s budget proposals for 2019/20.
All HWRCs are currently open seven days a week. Of the seven sites being proposed to close on two weekdays, six are the county’s quietest sites which receive less than 5,000 tonnes of waste a year, at Longridge, Barnoldswick, Clitheroe, Burscough, Carnforth, and Haslingden.
Steve Scott, head of waste management, said: “Lancashire County Council faces significant financial challenges and all service areas have been asked to carry out reviews and present options for savings to be made. “The proposals being presented for consideration by the Internal Scrutiny Committee aim to make a significant saving by improving efficiency in the way our household waste recycling centres operate.
“Lancashire’s HWRCs provide an extensive service in comparison with other councils, so there is scope to make savings by aligning opening days and hours more closely with the way people use them, ensuring they are open at the busiest times, but closing them when there is less demand.
”The Labour opposition group has condemned the plans. Deputy group leader, John Fillis, said: “We brought the household waste recycling centres in-house to improve the service to local communities. The Conservative administration is now looking to cut the service, which will increase the fly tipping across the county.
“They estimate to save themselves Â£734,000. This is a false economy, which will just pass the costs on to the borough councils who will have to clear up the mess caused by Lancashire County Council. They are not prepared to tell people how many tonnes of waste will be fly tipped around the county as a result of these closures.”
The review had also considered limiting the types of waste accepted, introducing further charges for some wastes, and limiting use of HWRCs to Lancashire residents only, however no proposals are currently being taken forward on these issues.
And Ribble Valley Borough councillor Richard Newmark has called for the public to object to the proposal for the centres in Longridge and Clitheroe.
"We recognise that the Lancashire County Council who run the waste disposal stations are under pressure financially, but reducing the hours of access to households and businesses in the Ribble Valley for waste disposal will increase the amount of fly tipping that is taking place. If this can be avoided it should be," Cllr Newmark said.
"As the largest borough in geographical terms in the county, it is important to keep adequate hours of opening for these centres particularly in the light of new housing increasing the population. It will mean travelling to Burnley or Preston for residents and the temptation for some will be dump the rubbish," he added.