Is a new owner poised to save Southwold’s threatened waste site?
A threatened household waste site looks set to be saved, if ownership is handed over to the town council.
Almost four months after supporters held a protest, Suffolk County Council is in talks to give the freehold of Southwold's waste and recycling centre over to Southwold Town Council free of charge.
Eighteen waste sites across Suffolk are due to close this year as part of the authority's attempts to save �42.5m.
The Southwold and Beccles sites were given an 11th hour reprieve in April when Waveney District Council agreed to fund the centres for six extra months, giving local people more time to put together contingency plans.
This month it emerged that local businessman Graham Murray, who runs the Sole Bay Car Parts company situated next to the tip, has shown interest in taking over the Southwold centre.
Mr Murray was unavailable for comment yesterday but Southwold mayor John Windell confirmed talks were ongoing.
He hopes it is the start of a secure future for a site that is visited 44,200 times a year and processes 920 tonnes of waste. He said: 'We are all keen to see it remain a recycling centre.
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'There is a viable business opportunity here. I do, however, have some concerns about the site accepting black bag waste and the charge that may incur.'
It is estimated by Suffolk County Council that each visit to the Blyth Road site currently costs the authority �25 per person. For the site operator to make a profit it is likely they would need to charge cars to use it.
Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk, is also hopeful the site will be saved.
He said: 'In Southwold, we are close to finding a solution which would involve us giving the land to the town council so it can be used as a recycling centre. Details still have to be confirmed, but we would be delighted if together we can achieve this.
'We are working on similar solutions for the other sites we are closing, including Beccles, and will announce details as soon as they are confirmed.'
At a Southwold meeting on June 8, town councillors agreed that if Mr Murray was to run the site as a business, it was ultimately up to him to make decisions about charging and opening hours.
Both Southwold and Beccles household and waste centre will close on October 1 unless other bodies step forward to take them on. Waveney is using �140,000 from its reserves to keep the sites open.
The authority has said if the centres shut they would end up spending at least