HOUSEHOLD Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) will each cut opening days down to three days a week with the aim of saving £140,000.
The move was approved at Powys County Council’s (PCC) cabinet meeting on February 7 and has been described as a “backwards step” by Montgomeryshire AM Russell George.
Trade recycling permits will also increase in cost from £150 to £200 and commercial vehicle access to HWRCs will be restricted.
County Councillor John Powell, Cabinet member for Waste and Recycling, presented the report and recommendations.
There was a public consultation that received 882 responses and 70 letters, favouring reduced opening hours rather than closures.
“No site has been ear marked for closure,” said Cllr Powell.
Councillor Graham Breeze, speaking for the first time at a cabinet meeting in his capacity as a county councillor said: “I would urge that this is not just a stay of execution.
“It is absolutely and categorically clear from the survey, that the people who use the HWRC at Welshpool are opposed to any closure of the facility.
“Better something than nothing has been the response.”
Cllr Breeze also noted the potential rise in fly tipping, attributing a current rise to a reduction in kerbside collections.
On the potential of fly tipping, Cllr Powell said: “Making changes to a service doesn’t generally result in an increase in fly tipping because the majority of residents will not commit an illegal activity.”
With the open days cut, there will be an HWRC available six days a week though travel distances will vary.
Cllr James Gibson-Watt, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader on PCC, said: “The criteria of people going from Machynlleth to Welshpool seems a bit far fetched.”
Cllr Aled Davies, Welsh Conservative leader on PCC, also noted that residents away from larger towns may not be as aware of the changes.
He said: “I am pleased the facilities will be available to most towns for most days of the week.
“It is disappointing that people further away from the towns won’t be as aware if they are only making a trip to the centres once every three months or so.”
The opening times will be publicised on the PCC website to keep residents informed.
Criticising the cabinet’s decision, AM Russell George said: “The future of our recycling provision is far from certain and with reduced opening hours, I am concerned at the long term impact this will have on our environment and recycling rates.”
As reduced opening days do not meet the target saving of £700,000 that would have come through closure of two sites, £200,000 has been put back in to the budget to support the service.
Cllr Wynne Jones, Cabinet member for finance, said: “£200,000 has been put back in the budget. Original savings for closure are being taken from the base budget. If we do not carry out savings we have got to put the money back in or find the savings elsewhere.
“This depends on the decision of the council on February 23 the budget meeting).”
See full story in the County Times