Furore over bid to save Beccles and Southwold waste sites

A political row has erupted over plans to spend �140,000 to keep two of Suffolk's threatened waste recycling centres running for six months.

Conservative leaders at Waveney District Council have drawn up proposals to 'save' the sites in Beccles and Southwold after Suffolk County Council announced plans to close them and five others to save millions of pounds.

But a report going before Waveney's full council on Wednesday reveals that, as 'no specific budget' exists to meet this cost, the money will have to be found from savings 'that may arise' elsewhere.

The revelation brought an angry reponse from the council's opposition Labour group, which claimed the idea was a politically-driven move by the Tories ahead of the May local elections. In turn, Conservatives insisted they were acting in the best interests of the public.

Tod Sullivan, Labour councillor for Whitton ward in Lowestoft, said: 'We're shocked that, having been told off for playing politics, leader Mark Bee sees fit to bypass the democratic process in order to make an announcement which he has, in fact, no right to make

'If this money was available, why would we not be presented with a choice of services to assist? Surely school crossing patrols, libraries, etc, deserve to be 'bought time' too?'

Mr Bee insisted that the move would only go ahead subject to full council approval. He said: 'We made this offer to allow the maximum amount of time for all bids to come forward to take over the running of these sites. I'm happy to take the flak if it means we're getting a sensible, reasonable outcome.'

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At next week's meeting, councillors will consider the recommendation that 'a supplementary budget provision of up to �140,000 to be met from General Fund balances for 2011/12' to 'fund the operation' of the sites.

If councillors approve the move, the two sites will be funded by Waveney but run by a contractor.