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Recycle bases aim to pile on the charm

PUBLISHED: 12:15 01 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:56 22 October 2010

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

A trip to the tip should be accompanied by a smile, if plans to overhaul Norfolk's £4.7m household recycling contracts get the go-ahead. The county council is looking for a single operator to run its 18 sites in a move that could save between £50,000 and £100,000 a year.

A trip to the tip should be accompanied by a smile, if plans to overhaul Norfolk's £4.7m household recycling contracts get the go-ahead.

The county council is looking for a single operator to run its 18 sites in a move that could save between £50,000 and £100,000 a year. Currently two firms, WRG and NEWS run eight and 10 sites respectively.

They hope a friendlier face could help improve the 64pc satisfaction in the service - which is one of the lowest in the country - despite Norfolk having one of the best recycling rates.

But that rises to 97pc where 'recycling advisors' are on hand to talk to people and part of the changes would be a shift towards improved contact with the public.

Staff would no longer be subcontracted - unless there were guarantees about their standards of training, customer care and health and safety, in a bid to improve their motivation.

However, opening times could be cut by between two and three hours a day in a bid create a simplified service. That could see sites open from 8am to 6pm in summer and 8am to 4pm in winter and save around £180,000 a year. Sites could also close on Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

There are also plans to relocate the Blackborough End site in King's Lynn, which is subsiding.

A report to the council's cabinet on Monday said it gets 580 complaints a month from people to its customer service centre - with many people angry that they have been turned away after trying to dump rubbish classed as DIY waste such as rubble.

That causes "most disatis-faction", it said, because "their expectations of free DIY waste disposal have not been met."

Recently the authority has launched an advertising campaign - "Know Before You Throw" - to give guidance on sorting rubbish to avoid such clashes at the tip.

Gerry Mole, head of environment and waste disposal, said the idea was to encourage staff to talk to the public and explain what they could or couldn't get rid of and why.

"If people are handled properly and given reasonable explanations, I'm not saying they will be happy, but if they've got a sympathetic ear it's a bit better than 'sorry you can't dump it here'," he said.

"They have maximised the recycling rates, but the downside is that people do not have an awful lot of time to explain what's happening and where the rubbish is going."

The cabinet will also meet behind closed doors to consider a list of firms hoping to run the centres.

"We have had a fair bit of interest in the running of the sites from a variety of operators," Mr Mole added.


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