DIY charges at rubbish tips raised just £92,000

One of West Sussex's rubbish tips

Charges for DIY waste at West Sussex rubbish tips suspended after six months raised just £92,000, the county council has confirmed.

From October 2016, visitors to Household Waste Recycling Sites in West Sussex were charged £4 a bag or sheet for the disposal of non-household waste such as soil, hard core, plasterboard, and other DIY materials.

However charges were suspended in April after the publication of the Government’s anti-littering strategy, with West Sussex County Council confirming last month that these charges would not be reinstated.

Income for that period was £92,768 compared to the expected figure of £309,901, according to figures discussed by county councillors last Friday (October 20), where Labour’s Michael Jones asked why the two figures were so different.

Deborah Urquhart, cabinet member for the environment, said this was down to lower than anticipated footfall as ‘people do not necessarily carry out DIY until the summer months’ and the ingenuity of residents.

She said: “We calculated that on average people would bring a bag of waste weight about 20 kilos but our residents, knowing that they would be charged per bag, were bringing bigger bags and putting as much as they possibly could into this bag and carrying them into the tips.

“Well done to them. We have got to give it to our residents, but those two factors meant that we did not receive the amount of money that we had originally anticipated.”

Mr Jones replied: “It begs the question if the residents thought of it, why didn’t our officers beforehand?”

At the same time as charges were introduced, all but three sites were closed for two days a week, with only Westhampnett, Crawley, and Burgess Hill remaining open all week.

Hours of operation at all HWRSs were reduced as part of cost cutting measures.

The council was asked what the costs were to install and implement the arrangements to charge for waste.

But according to a written answer it was not possible to give a definitive costs, as the charges were implemented alongside the other changes.

The total cost was £75,347, with the majority spent on staff time, signage and publicity.

Mrs Urquhart said: “The costs quoted are for everything that took place including the changes to the opening hours. Those costs would have been incurred in any case.”

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