Earlier winter opening times at rubbish tips confirmed

Bognor Regis' rubbish tip is one of those closed for two days a week
Bognor Regis' rubbish tip is one of those closed for two days a week

Earlier winter opening hours at West Sussex’s rubbish tips have been confirmed by the county council following a review of service demand.

Apart from Westhampnett, Crawley, and Burgess Hill the other Household Waste Recycling Sites have been closed for two days a week since last October.

Reduced opening hours were also introduced, but several locations have experienced problems with the later 10am opening time.

From October 1 to the end of March all tips will open at 9am and close at 4pm.

However earlier opening hours have already been implemented at Worthing, Crawley, Littlehampton and Bognor Regis earlier this summer.

Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “When we made changes to opening times last year it was following a consultation with local people. That consultation told us most people wanted later opening times in the evening rather than first thing in the morning. In some areas this doesn’t seem to have been the case.

“We are here to support the people who live in the county. Where they tell us something isn’t working we will always look at how we might be able to improve things.”

The decision was taken following a review carried out by a cross party member group. The Task and Finish Group (TFG) was formed to review changes to opening hours which were introduced in October 2016.

Mrs Urquhart said: “Encouraging and enabling people to recycle more of their waste is extremely important. We want to make this as easy as possible for residents.

“At the same time we are always looking at how we can improve our services and make the best use of the money we receive from people paying their council tax. This is in the context of more demand for all of our services coupled with less money from central government. We have to get the balance right between meeting the needs of residents and saving them money.”

Further proposals, including summer opening hours (April 1- September 30) and the policy on charging for DIY waste, will continue to be reviewed with a decision expected in the autumn.

The task and finish group looked at the option of closing Westhampnett, Crawley, and Burgess Hill for a day a week, but this option was discounted at this time.

A decision report, issued earlier this month, suggested in error that the changes ‘improves availability at Worthing’ and that the three rubbish tips currently open all week would instead be open for six days.

A spokesman for the county council said: “With any decision we make there is a process we go through to make sure the decision has been properly considered by all the appropriate people.

“Unfortunately there is a drafting error in the report mentioned which includes an earlier option, put forward by a member group set up to look at this issue, that was later discounted.

“The report was not properly amended following the final cabinet member decision.”

Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Gossops Green) said: “There’s undoubtedly been a lot of backtracking going on with this decision.

“The West Sussex Tories were seriously considering closing Crawley, Westhampnett and Burgess Hill at least one day a week, but at the eleventh hour appear to have realised that was a step too far.

“The report was rushed out as a result of the adverse publicity caused by press and opposition councillors’ criticism, as it clearly hasn’t been fully proof-read.

“The references to the provisionally-decided cuts are still in that one paragraph, so the county council have been caught red-handed.

“We also still have the ridiculous situation where major towns in West Sussex the size of Worthing, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Horsham do not have HWRCs that are open seven days a week.

“If one reads into the ‘stray’ paragraph in the report, Worthing has lost out on an increase in availability, and there must be a pressing need for it to be open more days otherwise it wouldn’t even have been considered.

“In any case, now the county Tories are going to ignore the problems at Worthing on grounds of cost, which will undoubtedly anger Worthing residents even further.

“This decision has even worse implications for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton who are both set to lose an hour from each end of the day.”

For more information on HWRS click here.