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North Hampshire residents face new threat to access Newbury tip

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NORTH Hampshire residents are once again facing the threat of losing access to the Newbury tip.

Last July, Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council agreed to co-fund a twelve-month deal with West Berkshire Council to allow around 5,000 North Hampshire homes to continue to use the household waste recycling centre (HWRC) on Newtown Road in West Berkshire.

This was to allow the county council to explore two potential sites for a new HWRC – the former Cottismore Nursery site next to the A339 near Kingsclere or the former Wolverton Quarry.

Newtown Road Household Waste Recycling Centre Ref: 27-2716C (48429938)
Newtown Road Household Waste Recycling Centre Ref: 27-2716C (48429938)

However, both of these options have now been ruled out due to feasibility issues, and the county council is now considering whether to cut the transitional payments, which would save the council £87,500 a year as it struggles under financial pressures.

This would mean from August 1, Hampshire residents won’t be able to access the Newtown Road facility, forcing them to undertake a potential 30-mile round trip to their nearest HWRC in Basingstoke or Andover.

A final decision will be made in July to allow for data to be assessed at a Policy and Resources committee meeting.

The county council has been approached for comment.

One potential option is for Hampshire residents to pay to use the Newtown Road HWRC, however no system is currently in place.

Both West Berkshire Council’s executive member for environment Steve Ardagh-Walter and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council leader Ken Rhatigan said they were hopeful a solution will be found.

Mr Ardagh-Walter said: “We’ve been in discussions about this matter and we’re expecting to hear from them in more detail fairly soon.

“It’s a bit premature to say what’s going to happen – many things are on the table.

“I’m confident there will be a respectable solution in place for North Hampshire residents after July 31.

“I would want to reassure those residents there will be a way they can continue to use Newtown Road because we recognise there are quite a number of people for whom it’s the closest recycling centre and it’s in all our interests that road miles are minimised.”

Mr Rhatigan said: “We are discussing that with Hampshire County Council to see what provision they can bring on board.

“Negotiations continue – with all these things it always goes down to the wire, that’s the nature of local government.

“We’ve set aside money in the budget should it be required.

“We hope West Berkshire will come with some proposal to allow continued access for our residents, and then maybe bill us at the end of the year.

“That is up to them, they have the facility but we have the residents and everybody is looking for ways to fund services.

“This would be a good way to fund a service that is required not just for West Berkshire residents but our residents too.”

This latest dispute has been many years in the making after Hampshire County Council’s decision in September 2016 to withdraw its £200,000 a year funding which allowed residents living in Hampshire to use West Berkshire HWRCs.

This led West Berkshire Council to implement a permit scheme restricting access to its HWRCs to just West Berkshire residents.

Four months later, Hampshire County Council paid West Berkshire Council £170,000 to allow Basingstoke and Deane residents living close to the Newtown Road tip to continue using the site for 12 months, with permits issued to those eligible.

These included households in Kingsclere (1,510), East Woodhay (1,169), Highclere (627), Ashford Hill with Headley (544), Burghclere (470) and Ecchinswell, Sydmonton and Bishops Green (469).

This transition scheme, initially for just one year, continued until last summer, when the county and borough councils agreed to split the bill.

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