Pay-as-you-throw plan for waste sites is revealed

Households across Waveney could soon be paying to dump rubbish at their local waste sites, it was revealed this week.

A 'pay as you throw' scheme was unveiled on Wednesday night when Waveney District Council's scrutiny committee met to discuss the waste and recycling centres in Beccles and Southwold.

Their futures have been hanging in the balance since Suffolk County Council announced earlier this year it would 'divest' seven out of 18 sites to cut �1.45m from its waste budget. If no-one steps forward to run them the sites will close - making the centre on South Lowestoft Industrial Estate the only tip in Waveney.

However, throughout Suffolk's wider consultations into the future of the sites, local communities and town councils have rallied to save them. And it has now been revealed that both Beccles and Southwold Town Councils are the cusp of signing deals to save the local sites.

Speaking yesterday Beccles mayor Brian Woodruff said: 'We are 90 per cent of the way to providing an alternative and we will be making an announcement at the beginning of August.'

Suffolk is considering 'gifting' the county council-owned land back to Beccles town council. A number of organisations, including a Christian charity, have expressed an interest in running the site for them, but the council is now in detailed negotiations with three private commercial waste disposal contractors.Whoever wins the contract will provide a 'pay as you throw' facility.

Mr Woodruff said: 'There has to be a charge, but it will be a nominal charge.

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'We've been working on this since the announcement was first made. If people do not want to pay to dump their rubbish in Beccles, they can use the site in Lowestoft for free. 'Just about everyone we'd spoken to understands why there's got to be a charge and the charge will vary depending on whether you have a few items in the back of a car or a van full of stuff.'

In Southwold the town council has received a verbal proposal from local businessman Graham Murray, owner of the Sole Bay Car Parts company situated next to the Blyth Road tip. It was suggested at the Waveney meeting on Wednesday that charges at the Southwold site could start at about �4 per car.

Speaking at the meeting Steve Palfrey, Suffolk County Council's head of waste, said: 'Residents value these centres and want to explore what alternatives could be put in place locally rather then travelling to the next nearest site.'

'We have facilitated discussions with Southwold Town Council and a potential operator to see if there is a viable and sustainable solution. I am pretty hopeful that a sensible and sustainable proposal will come through.'

While Southwold councillor Michael Ladd said he believed local people are 'disappointed' by the prospect of paying to use their tip, town mayor John Windell hopes residents will understand why Mr Murray will have no choice but to charge.

He said: 'The good news is we've spoken with Graham and he's hoping to have the tip open by the end of August. There are still some formalities to get through and there has been pressure from the county and district to get it taken over sooner but that's not realistic.

'It'll probably need to close for a couple of weeks while Graham carries out some work, but the main thing is the waste site will stay open.'

The Beccles and Southwold site were originally due to close on July 31 - along with the others sites across Suffolk, but Waveney council stepped in and pledged to spend up to �140,000 to keep them open until October. District councillors said the extension has given everyone more time to come up with long-term solutions.

Earlier this week Suffolk's portfolio holder for waste Lisa Chamber said the council cannot start charging people to use the sites as it is against government regulations, but consultations had shown that people would rather pay a fee than lose their local waste sites.

In a bid to allay fears that illegal dumping will increase if people are asked to pay to use the tips, Suffolk has put in place new arrangements to spend �35,000 on a flytipping response unit.