Norfolk County Council hits back at ministers over criticism of recycling centre charges
PUBLISHED: 09:03 07 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:03 07 March 2014
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Leaders at Norfolk County Council have sent an angry riposte to government ministers who criticised them for planning to charge people to use some of the county’s recycling centres.
As part of a package to save £189m over the next three years, the county council is looking to introduce £2 charges at recycling centres in Ashill, Bergh Apton, Docking, Heacham, Snetterton, Strumpshaw, Wells, Worstead and Wymondham from April 2016.
That led to government ministers, including Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, sending a strongly worded letter to Labour leader George Nobbs.
They suggested under the law, waste should be accepted free of charge and said it would lead to an increase in fly-tipping.
But the council, which has stressed 11 of Norfolk’s main recycling centres would still be free, has now hit back at the letter from ministers.
In a letter to local government minister and environment minister Dan Rogerson, Mr Nobbs attacks Mr Lewis for sending his letter of concern to a national newspaper before sending it to the county council.
And he says: “I am perplexed that it has taken Mr Lewis so long to express a view to me about this issue, which will not take effect until 2016.
“The letter comes more than five months after we first started consulting with all of Norfolk’s MPs and the entire community, about our proposals for plugging our £189m funding gap.
“Other Norfolk MPs responded to this consultation, which we called Putting People First, but Mr Lewis sent a holding letter which had no comment to make on our proposals. Further two weeks have passed since we settled our budget for this financial year.
“Perhaps the fact that you sent your letter to a national newspaper before me, says all I need to know about how seriously you really think this matter is - and what your real motive is for sending it.”
The letter continues that the proposal is similar to a scene in Somerset, where a £2 entry fee has been charged at four of 18 household waste sites for several years.
And he said: “On the one hand, your government withdraws millions of pounds of funding from local authorities like ours and challenges us to look at opportunities for charging for services and generating new revenue streams to plug that gap.
“On the other hand, you intervene in a negative way at the first sign that those ideas are being put into practice.”
Following our story on the issue on Monday, 464 people took part in an online survey asking what people thought of the plans.
Of those, 91pc of those who took part said they wouldn’t pay £2 to use their recycling centre and that the plan should be scrapped, but 9pc said they would.
In a report detailing the consultation responses, 268 out of 394 of those who responded did not support the proposal, with most of the responses that were against it citing concerns about fly-tipping.
Would a charge increase fly-tipping? Or is it a sensible way to cut the county council’s deficit? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich.