Would you pay £2 to visit a recycling centre in Norfolk..?

Proposals to charge people £2 to visit recycling centres will be discussed at County Hall next week.

Proposals to charge people £2 to visit recycling centres will be discussed at County Hall next week. - Credit: Archant

Proposals to charge householders £2 a time to visit recycling centres and spend £1m less on Norfolk's roads come under scrutiny next week.

County Hall says it needs to bridge a spending gap of £66.5m in 2014/15 and £189m over the next three years, caused by rising costs, higher demands on services and a £91m cut in government funding.

It is proposing to find around a quarter of it by cutting the money spent on the county's roads, economic development and the environment.

Norfolk's environment, transport and development scrutiny panel meets on Tuesday to discuss what impacts the proposed cuts of £14.5m could have.

Plans include charging householders £2 every time they visit nine of the county's recycling centres and charge people for recycling tyres.

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There are also proposals to cut £1m from road maintenance for one year, meaning fewer grit bin refills, cutbacks in road marking and safety barrier replacement, and reduced bridge and traffic light maintenance.

Conservative Bev Spratt, chair of the 15-strong panel, said: 'I know we've got the cuts and all the rest of it but to charge £2 to go to recycling centres is just ricidulous. You'll put pressure on the people who work there to look after cash. People are going to go there with a £20 note and want £18 change.

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'I don't think they've thought it through. People realise we've got to make cuts but this sort of thing is just trivial, it's just going to upset the public.'

Mr Spratt said he had received a number of calls from councillors opposed to the cuts and expecgted his panel to reject some of the proposals. But the council does not have to follow any recommendation it makes.

David Harrison, the county's cabinet member for environment, transport, development and waste, said:

'The council has to balance its budget, and there are no easy decisions. The council is having to invest more in children's services, so that increases the pressure on environment, transport and development.

'I think we can take £1m from the road maintenance budget for one year without serious long-term implications, but it's not something I would want to see repeated. The proposals for recycling centres are aimed at reducing costs so that we can keep a county-wide service running. Similarly, we are proposing to reduce support for the Coasthopper so we can maintain support for other rural bus services. I don't expect these proposals to be popular, but sadly they are necessary.'

Social care for older people, transport for students, mobile libraries and school crossing patrols are also under threat, along with 500 jobs at the council.

Consultation into the proposed cuts is under way until Thursday, December 12, via the county council website here.

Feedback will be considered before the council agrees its 2014/15 budget in February. Tuesday's meeting is being held at County Hall, from 2pm.

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