County Hall defends recycling charges

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County council officials have defended their plans to charge residents to use three West Norfolk recycling centres, as part of plans to cut more than £180m from the authority’s spending.

As previously reported, Norfolk County Council plans to introduce a £2 charge for people using nine of its 20 recycling sites across the county, including Heacham, Docking and Ashill, from 2016.

And the authority yesterday hit back at criticism from ministers, who have called for a re-think.

County Hall officials have accused the government of forcing them to take the action because of the severe funding cuts it has imposed upon them.

Local government minister Brandon Lewis and waste minister Dan Rogerson jointly wrote to the council last week, warning that the plans to charge people to use some recycling centres would increase the risk of fly-tipping.

They also argue that the plan could contravene laws which state that local authorities have a duty to accept household waste “free of charge”.

But a county council spokesman yesterday said: “Eleven of Norfolk’s main recycling centres will still be free to use.

“Charging a small fee at nine of our smaller sites from 2016 is one way of keeping all 20 open in the face of very significant cuts in government funding that our county is having to deal with.”

The council says it is having to cut £189 million from its spending over the next three years.

Its budget for the coming financial year was only narrowly approved last month.

However, the plan to make people pay to use recycling centres has proved unpopular with residents, with more than two-thirds of respondents opposing the idea during public consultations carried out on the budget last year.