THE battle is on to save Claughton tip from closure – with the community being urged to protest loudly to county council bosses.
Unless there is a last-minute change of heart, the household waste and recycling centre used by thousands of people in greater Garstang will close in November.
County bosses have defended the move, saying it is the “quietest” waste centre in Lancashire, and its closure “would not have a significant impact on the residents of the (Wyre) district as a whole”.
If the centre does close, Garstang area residents will have to travel to Preston, Longridge, Lancaster or Fleetwood to dispose of their household waste and recycling.
The closure move – reported exclusively in last week’s Courier – has prompted anger in Garstang and surrounding villages.
Garstang’s County Coun Val Wilson says she is “begging” people to respond to the newly launched consultation exercise.
County Coun Wilson said: “Statistically, as quoted in the review report, at a borough level, only 16% of Wyre households are closest to Claughton site... hence the quote ‘it would not have a significant impact on Wyre as a whole’.
“However, as a resident of Catterall, Claughton or Garstang, it will have a significant impact. I urge all Courier readers on whom this would have an impact to make their voice heard.”
She said she shared people’s concerns, and would back local residents’ opposition – though she added she did agree with the county council’s figures.
Wyre Coun Roger Brooks, a regular user of the tip, said he was worried about an increase in fly-tipping if the centre closed.
He said: “Clearly, old refrigerators and old lawnmowers cannot be put in the normal domestic recycling. Will they go into the canal?
“Claughton has been a valued service for many years, and has a loyal following. Many friendships have been formed there and the staff are always courteous and helpful. It would be a significant loss of amenity – the consequences are difficult to calculate.”
Deputy Mayor of Garstang Coun Sandra Perkins said the decision to close the centre was “ridiculous”, and would have a huge impact on the older generation who would struggle to travel the distance to alternative sites.
“It just incenses me and this is something we will have to fight tooth and nail for,” she said.
“We need everyone, everyone, to put pen to paper and write to make their voices heard.”
Speaking on the strain it would create for local households and businesses, she added: “I understand money needs to be saved but it is just nonsense, the Garstang site is the hub of a big rural area, and we are being swallowed up.
“It is so short-sighted – looking at it from all directions, where are they going to go?”
Eight staff at the site, on the Claughton on Brock Industrial estate, were called by management last Tuesday and told the site would be closing in November.
A source said the announcement had come as “a bombshell” for staff, who it is understood had been led to believe the Garstang tip would be staying open.
The source said: “The staff just don’t understand it – the Claughton centre is recognised as one of the top in Lancashire for recycled waste and previously has been a flagship site for others in the district.
“Most of the staff have families and mortgages - this will cause a lot of hardship.
“There is also a real concern over fly-tipping with the distances people are going to have to travel to get rid of their rubbish.”
The staff at the SITA-managed site were also told there was no possibility of re-deployment. They have all received 90 days notice.
A resident, who called at the tip just after staff had been told, said workers were “gutted” by the proposals.
Mrs Judith Hodgkinson who lives on Lancaster Road said: “I got to the tip and they were all in absolute shock, just gutted.
“I use the tip weekly and did so when I lived in Barton previously.
“It is really popular, the centre covers such a huge area - the fly tipping that will go on is really worrying.”
County Coun Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, who announced the closure of Garstang, Great Harwood, Bacup and Colne waste and recycling centres, said: “People can now recycle most items using the doorstep collections, with household waste centres there for the occasional times they need to dispose of bulky rubbish or items which can’t be collected from the doorstep.
“Even following these closures, most people will still have a site within six miles of their home.
“We accept these closures will have an impact on the local communities they serve, but it is not cost effective to continue to provide two sites in each district where only one facility is needed for the amount of waste generated, or where there are alternatives nearby.”
The county council has examined the current 19 sites in Lancashire with what it says is “a focus on continuing to provide residents with the opportunity to dispose of bulky household items near their home, while reflecting changes to doorstep rubbish collections - and the need to balance a smaller budget.”
The review took into consideration the amount of rubbish received at site, capacity of the site, and proximity to households.
County Coun Wilson said: “We are now in a period of consultation until September 30 and I urge all residents who regularly use this waste site , to respond either to the web-site - www.lancashire.gov.uk/waste or write to Mrs Jo Turton at County Hall, or myself, and I will forward them on.”
* To read the proposals in full or to respond to the consultation by September 30 2011, please visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/waste