Southwold waste site saved by local businessman - but charges apply

A businessman who is taking over a threatened household waste site has said the service will only survive is people are prepared to pay.

The future of Southwold household waste centre looked uncertain when Suffolk County Council pulled funding earlier this year. The site was set to close at the end of July as a result of the authority's budget cuts, but Waveney District Council then agreed to fund the site for an extra six months – giving interested parties extra time to come up with long term plans.

Now Graham Murray, who runs Sole Bay Car Parts in Southwold, has signed a deal with Suffolk to open the site as a commercial venture. The land in Blyth Road has also been gifted back to Southwold Town Council.

The site will be called the Sole Bay Community Recycling Centre and open seven days a week – from 9am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on a Sunday. There will be a 'sale' area on the site – giving local people the opportunity to buy items for re-use.

Charges will, however, apply. They are currently set at: �3 for a car; �6 for an estate/MPV; �12 trailer and �20 for a van. Commercial waste charges (including VAT) will be: �20 for a car; �25 for an estate/MPV, �50 for a trailer or van.

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Speaking at a Southwold Town Council meeting last night (Tuesday, July 26), Mr Murray said he is hopeful it will be a success but warned that if people do not pay to use the site it will fail.

He said: 'We're looking at running a three month trial to see if it works out.

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'I really don't know at this stage whether people are prepared to pay. We're working in the dark a little with this. It's a new venture for everybody involved.'

Under council control the site, which was free to use, was visited a 44,200 times a year and processed 920 tonnes of waste.

It has been estimated that site operators will have to pay �75,000 a year to dispose of 'black waste' – the household rubbish that cannot be reused or recycled, brought to the site. If people living in Southwold, Reydon and nearby villages opt to travel to the free waste centre in Lowestoft or Leiston, Mr Murray said he would struggle to keep the site open.

Also speaking at the meeting was Steve Palfrey, Suffolk County Council's head of waste.

When asked if the authority could offer financial support in return for Mr Murray's effort to save a local service, he said the council has no budget to offer any kind of subsidy, but will help publicise his business and is paying for the cost of promotional flyers.

'Hopefully we can make a go of it,' said Mr Murray.

'We'll just have to see.'

The site remains open now, but is due to open under its new name on August 22.

• Suffolk council is also working with communities on similar solutions for the other sites it is planning to close - Bramford and Brome, which are due to close on 31 July and Beccles, which is due to close on 31 October.

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