A decision to close Longridge’s household waste recycling centre for two days a week and cut its opening hours has prompted a local backlash.
Conservative councillor David Smith has warned that it is a bad decision - even though he says the understands the need for the ruling Tory group at County Hall to make economic cuts.
Coun Smith, who represents Longridge with Bowland, spoke out after the county council’s cabinet agreed to shut six county recycling centres for two days a week from October, excluding weekends and bank holidays.
Opening hours will be reduced to 9am to 5pm.
Coun Smith warned that fly tipping could result and said: “I just think they’ve made all the wrong assumptions. I think it’s the wrong emphasis on tonnage, the wrong emphasis on the location of Longridge tip and the wrong emphasis on amount of travel time there will be to another tip.
"I think the time of this (decision) when there’s all these campaigns to clean things up and pick up plastic ..I think it’s a negative step."
The decision, which also affects Clitheroe tip, was taken by the cabinet at its last meeting and is due to be ratified at the full county council meeting on Thursday.
Coun Smith said he will be speaking out against it but added:“I don’t want to be a pessimist but I can’t see the county council overturning it. It’s a pity it has to be an environmental saving. The tip is an issue, especially in Longridge.”
Other centres where days will be cut are Barnoldswick, Burscough, Carnforthe and Haslingden, All other household recycling centres will have their hours cut to 9am to 5pm.
During the summer season Longridge tip is open from 8am to 7pm. Opening hours at all 15 centres across the county will also be reduced with each site operating from 9am to 5pm. The new operating hours and reduced days are due to come into force from 1st October.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet approved the county tip changes as part of a plan to save approximately £700,000 a year.
Deputy council leader, Albert Atkinson, told the meeting that the five-day operation of waste centres was now commonplace across local authorities, including the standalone councils in Blackpool and Blackburn-with-Darwen.
A public consultation into the plans attracted more than 1,200 responses, with roughly half of people opposed to both the cut in hours and days. Eighty-three percent of respondents said that having access to the facilities at weekends was important to them.
A suggestion that the centres could remain open later during the summer months was rejected, because of the effect of the irregular shift patterns on staff.
Opposition councillors have previously raised concerns about a potential increase in fly-tipping as a result of the reduced days of operation. But a paper presented to cabinet concluded that there was”no evidence” to support that claim.
“The recycling centres are currently open 11 hours a day, 7 days a week over summer and fly tipping still occurs across the county. This is because most fly tipping is carried out by unscrupulous businesses who do not want to pay for their waste to be disposed of properly,” the report noted.
In a statement after the meeting, deputy leader of the Labour opposition group, John Fillis, said: “It’s clearly recognised by the scientific community and supported by local people that we need to be recycling more.
“The Conservatives go against all this and choose to cut the opening hours of Household Waste Recycling Centres across Lancashire. This will without doubt reduce recycling and increase fly tipping, leaving the borough councils to clear it up and local people to pay the price.”