Permits for vans and trailers at rubbish tips

Deborah Urquhart cabinet member for the environment at West Sussex County Council
Deborah Urquhart cabinet member for the environment at West Sussex County Council
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West Sussex’s rubbish tip service ‘was not broken but now is’ one Lib Dem councillor has claimed as permits are set to be introduced.

Reduced opening hours were introduced at all Household Waste Recycling Sites (HWRSs) in October 2016, while the majority of locations were also closed for two days a week as part of cost-cutting measures.

Now West Sussex County Council is set to introduce free permits for vans, pick-up trucks and trailers to reduce cross-border waste tourism.

Twin axle trailers, luton vans and horseboxes will be banned from all sites, while trailers will not be permitted at Littlehampton or Bognor Regis on health and safety grounds.

The new proposals were supported by the majority of environment, communities and fire select committee members on Wednesday (January 31).

Deborah Urquhart, cabinet member for the environment, described how the council was taking a ‘light-touch approach’ to the problem.

She added: “We will take a softly-softly approach and hopefully it will bed in over time and people will get used to the system and know they need to get a permit.”

Surrey County Council has brought in a raft of restrictions at its community recycling centres and as a result WSCC has looked at its policies to discourage residents travelling across the border to dump their waste.

It is estimated on average one out of ten visitors to the sites live outside of West Sussex, with the largest cross-border usage at East Grinstead then Shoreham.

The cost of implementing the new scheme is estimated at £10,000.

However if the changes lead to a reduction in the amount of waste taken to sites the county council could save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

Customers visiting West Sussex sites with a van, pick-up truck or trailer will need to complete an online application.

To obtain a free permit residents will be required to provide their postcode which must be within West Sussex.

If a resident has hired a van or pick-up truck for a particular task such as moving house they can simply provide proof of residency in West Sussex, as well as showing the vehicle hire documents.

The scheme’s implementation would avoid the ‘spring peak’ between Easter and early May.

Lib Dem Francis Oppler argued they were seeing the ‘continuing aftershocks’ of previous changes. He said: “It’s diminishing what was a hugely successful and enormously well used service.”

He described how the impact on staff had been ‘phenomenal’ due to the level of abuse and aggravation they had received.

Mr Oppler added: “I just feel it was a fantastic service paid for by residents. We all contributed to it and it was something that was not broken but now is.”

But Conservative Andrew Baldwin backed the new restrictions. He said: “To me that’s not unreasonable. I do not see why the residents of West Sussex should be footing the bill for people who live in surrounding counties.”

Fellow Tory Simon Oakley added: “I support the direction of travel. We have got to try it and clearly we have to understand we are going to limit the issues, we are never going to eliminate them.”

The council will continue to monitor the situation and if it showed ‘people coming across in hordes’ the permit scheme could be reviewed.

Officers explained that restrictions on trailers at Littlehampton and Bognor Regis were due to a number of near misses and minor incidents recently.

Residents can check on the Government’s website by entering their registration to see if they own a commercial-style vehicle which would require a permit.

The committee asked if information on alternative ways of disposing of items was clearly shown on all West Sussex councils’ websites.

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