Household waste-recovery centres put under review

The household waste recovery centre at Wooler.
The household waste recovery centre at Wooler.

The opening hours of two household waste-recovery centres in north Northumberland could be reduced, as part of cost-cutting measures.

The operating times of the facilities in North Sunderland and Wooler, as well as those in Allendale, Haltwhistle and Kirkley West Thorn, are currently under review by Northumberland County Council.

It comes as the authority looks to cut £130,000 from its waste management budget for 2016/17.

The sites are described as being ‘the five smallest’ in the county and options around opening hours are being explored, rather than closure.

The Gazette understands that the authority is working to ensure that the sites remain open at their busiest times when demand is highest, such as over the weekends, but the county council could not comment on what the reduction of hours would be and whether or not there would be job losses.

A period of consultation is to follow with those ‘in the affected areas’ and it is envisaged that the new opening arrangements would come into force later in the year.

A county-council spokesman said: “Due to ongoing central Government cuts, the council has been put in the challenging position of having to make savings of £58million in the next four years from a range of council services.

“At its meeting in February, councillors agreed, as part of the authority’s medium term financial plan, a cut of £130,000 from the waste management budget for 2016/17.

“We are now carrying out a review of our household waste-recovery centres, exploring options with the operator around reducing opening hours at the five smallest sites, rather than closing any. Opening times are under review at these five sites.

“We are still working out the detail of how this could be achieved and once we are clearer on the alternative opening arrangements we will be consulting with those in the affected areas before a final decision is taken.

“It is envisaged that new opening arrangements would come into effect this autumn.”

However, one critic – who lives in North Sunderland, but wished to remain anonymous – has hit out at the potential reduction in opening hours. He said: “Once again, the rural areas are getting hit and I think it will have an impact. I fear it will lead to people fly-tipping.”