A town’s tip will not be replaced when the lease runs out – under a council’s cost-cutting proposals.
Cheshire East Council has carried out a review of its eight HWRCs as it looks to commission a new contract to run the facilities from 2023.
Congleton tip is the only one of the eight sites which is not owned by the council and, to replace it, the authority would need to borrow an estimated £4 million – which would cost taxpayers £250,000-a-year.
Under proposals in a report going to cabinet next month, the Congleton tip would not be replaced, with the number of HWRCs being reduced to seven.
According to the report, this would save the council the £250,000-a-year, as well as reducing the cost of the new HWRC contract.
The report says that 96 per cent of Cheshire East residents would still be within a 20-minute drive of a tip – down from the current level of 98 per cent – with the Alsager and Macclesfield facilities being the next nearest for most Congleton residents.
And while the number of residents per HWRC would increase from 47,600 to 54,400, the report says this would still be ‘well within’ the national guidelines.
But the move is being opposed by Congleton Town Council, while more than 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for the tip to be saved.
The CEC report states: “The lease for the current HWRC in Congleton expires in September 2021. Not replacing the current facility in Congleton would reduce the future running cost of the HWRC service and so partly mitigate the anticipated increased cost of the new contract.
“Furthermore, it would avoid the cost associated with repaying the capital investment required to deliver a replacement facility at Congleton, which is estimated to be £250,000 per annum.
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“It is acknowledged that this proposal could result in longer journeys for some residents and an increase in carbon emissions from those journeys. However, the council’s corporate plan and environment strategy prioritise waste prevention, reduction and reuse over recycling and disposal, and so this may encourage residents to reduce the amount of waste they produce.”
A public consultation, which had more than 10,200 responses, indicated that 59 per cent of people want the current service level to continue.
A clear majority of respondents were ‘strongly opposed’ to each of four alternative scenarios, which would have seen various tips close, including Congleton.
Residents raised concerns over fly-tipping, increase congestion at the remaining sites and a reduction in recycling rates.
But the council says that there was ‘no significant increase’ in fly-tipping following the closure of the Arclid HWRC in 2017.
Congleton West councillor George Hayes, a member of the opposition Conservative group, hit out at the plans.
He said: “I believe this is the height of irresponsibility by Cheshire East Council.
“At a time when they are professing to be green and climate conscious, why are they forcing people to travel further if they want to recycle their waste?
“They are also expecting Congleton residents to pay more in council tax next year for a lesser service.”
Congleton Town Council has set up a working group to explore options for retaining a HWRC in the Congleton area.
In 2019/20, the tip dealt with 2,790 tons of materials, 1,237 of which was recycled, 115 tons reused, 439 tons of green waste composted, and 100 tons of hard core sent for other purposes.