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More than 62,000 fewer visits to Norfolk’s recycling centres since charges introduced

PUBLISHED: 06:00 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:24 31 October 2018

King's Lynn Recycling Centre Picture: Matthew Usher.

King's Lynn Recycling Centre Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

More than 60,000 fewer visits have been made to Norfolk’s recycling centres since controversial waste charges were introduced earlier this year.

Labour councillor Terry Jermy said he was not surprised by the latest figures. Photo: Labour Party.Labour councillor Terry Jermy said he was not surprised by the latest figures. Photo: Labour Party.

More than 60,000 fewer visits have been made to Norfolk’s recycling centres since controversial waste charges were introduced earlier this year.

The latest figures from Norfolk County Council reveal visitor numbers over the past five months are still well below where they were in 2017.

It comes after the Conservative-controlled council removed a concession which had allowed people to leave up to 80 litres of DIY waste at its recycling centres for no charge.

As of April 1 this year people have had to pay £3 for getting rid of a bag of rubble and item of timber, and £9 for plasterboard.

The latest figures from Norfolk County Council reveal visitor numbers over the past five months are still well below where they were in 2017. Picture: ANTHONY KELLY/TERRY JERMY/JOHNATHAN TIDSWELL/TOM BRISTOWThe latest figures from Norfolk County Council reveal visitor numbers over the past five months are still well below where they were in 2017. Picture: ANTHONY KELLY/TERRY JERMY/JOHNATHAN TIDSWELL/TOM BRISTOW

Figures show 62,864 fewer people visited the county’s 19 recycling sites between May and September this year, compared to the same period in 2017.

July saw the biggest drop, with 31,231 fewer visits compared to the same month last year.

The county council attributed the dip “partly” to a reduction in garden waste, which it said was caused by the heat wave.

A council spokesman said: “How people use recycling centres is also changing, so the figures alone do not tell the full story.

“We believe people are making fewer trips with more materials, and we are also seeing a welcome increase in the use of our reuse shops.”

June was the only month to see an increase year-on-year in visitors, with numbers jumping from 114,553 in 2017 to 116,667 in 2018.

The figures also show the amount of waste being dumped has dropped by more than 10,000 tonnes.

Between May and September last year 37,652 tonnes was dumped, compared to 26,972 tonnes in 2018.

Earlier in July motions were put forward for the council to suspend or stop the waste charges, however county councillors voted to keep them in place.

The council said the move would save it £500,000 a year, but critics have previously said it has led to an increase in fly-tipping.

Labour councillor Terry Jermy said he was “not surprised” by the latest figures.

He said: “We [the Labour group] have highlighted not just the drop in attendance, but also the increase in kerbside collections, which could cost the district councils dearly.”

A county council said it will continue to monitor the use of its recycling centres closely.

A council spokesman added: “We would always urge people to check our website to see what you can take along to a recycling centre as it’s free to bring all your household waste including sofas, fridges, carpet and underlay, and green garden waste.

“It’s important to look closely and see what the facts and figures over a period of time are telling us.

“We know that year after year around 90pc of fly-tipped waste could have been left at a recycling centre for free. And the latest figures available do not suggest that there’s been any significant rise the amount of construction and demolition waste being illegally dumped in Norfolk since April 2018.”

• Check what you can take to a recycling centre here: www.norfolk.gov.uk/recycling

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