Sat, 11 Jul 2020
NORTH Hampshire residents will lose their access to the tip on Newtown Road after Hampshire County Council (HCC) decided to cut its subsidies to West Berkshire Council (WBC).
In a meeting on Thursday, July 2, Hampshire county councillor Rob Humby accepted recommendations to terminate the annual £175,000 payment from HCC to WBC which allowed 5,000 Hampshire households to use the Newbury tip.
This means that from August 1, North Hampshire residents face a potential 30-mile round trip to their nearest Hampshire household waste recycling centre (HWRC) in Basingstoke or Andover.
There are now fears that an end to the arrangement will lead to a rise in fly-tipping in North Hampshire and that the decision undermines both HCC’s and WBC’s self-declared climate emergencies.
HCC executive member for economy, transport and environment Rob Humby said the charge per household to use the Newbury tip was far too expensive and the rest of the county was subsidising the service.
He said: “The annual cost for these 5,000 households to use the Newbury HWRC is an average charge of £36 per household, compared to the cost of the HWRC service in Hampshire of £15 per household.
“This reflects the higher costs of the service in West Berkshire, which is the main reason the county council had to end the original subsidy payment.
“The additional costs of the transitional arrangement (more than double the cost of the Hampshire service) mean that effectively every household in the rest of Hampshire is subsidising this arrangement.”
On what he would say to the North Hampshire residents feeling upset over the decision, Mr Humby said: “HCC has the largest network of HWRCs in the country, however we recognise that there are some areas across Hampshire where residents do need to travel more than 10 miles to their nearest HWRC.
“We have undertaken exercises to find a site for a potential HWRC location in North West Hampshire with the borough council on several occasions but no suitable site has been found to date – indeed in the most recent exercise they suggested only three sites all in the centre of Basingstoke.”
The Newbury Weekly News also asked Mr Humby how this decision correlates with the council’s self-declared climate emergency.
Mr Humby continued: “Climate change is a complicated issue, and it is over-simplistic to simply suggest that traveling further to the site must mean that the climate change impact is greater.
“In fact the overall impact will also depend on the haulage arrangements from the two sites, what happens to the materials being received and how the residual waste is treated.
“The most environmentally efficient thing would be for residents to minimise the waste they generate by home composting or seeking reuse options.
“If this is not possible then using the kerbside recycling service would reduce the need to travel to HWRCs.”
West Berkshire executive member for the environment Steve Ardagh-Walter said the situation was a great shame and hoped that an agreement could still be reached.
He said: “First of all I want to emphasise that this is a regrettable situation.
“We really are not central to it though, unfortunately it seems that Hampshire County Council and potentially Basingstoke and Deane need to resolve it themselves.
“We do, as is common practice, offer neighbouring authorities access to our recycling centres and up to the end of this month this has been an arrangement with Hampshire based on the costs of running the site and the number of Hampshire residents who use it.
“We really can’t deviate from that without being unfair to West Berkshire residents who would otherwise be subsidising.
“From our side it’s simple. These are expensive facilities to run – we currently spend around £17m annually on our recycling and waste disposal services for West Berkshire residents. We’ll have to manage the lost £175,000.
“We’d love to come to an agreement with Basingstoke and Deane and/or Hampshire, but really we’re a bit stymied until there’s resolution at the border.”
Mr Ardagh-Walter said that if no agreement was reached, he hoped a pay-as-you-go or permit system could be implemented for Hampshire residents, but that there was currently nothing in place.
On the effects of the situation on the environment, Mr Ardagh-Walter added: “Again, I hugely regret it. It’s a sad consequence that the arrangements couldn’t be made to carry this on.”
The development is the latest in a long-running dispute between the councils.
In September 2016, HCC withdrew its £200,000 a year funding which allowed residents living in Hampshire to use West Berkshire facilities.
Four months later, Hampshire paid West Berkshire £175,000 to allow Basingstoke and Deane residents living close to the tip to continue using the site for 12 months.
Households affected include 1,510 in Kingsclere, East Woodhay (1,169), Highclere (627), Ashford Hill with Headley (544), Burghclere (470) and Ecchinswell, Sydmonton and Bishops Green (469).