Plans being drawn to reopen county’s tips amid growing national pressure to do so

Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, has said household recycling centres will

Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, has said household recycling centres will reopen only when the Government says it is safe to do so. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Plans are being drawn up to reopen the Cambridgeshire tips, but the gates will only open when the Government advice changes, the county council has said.

The joint kerbside garden waste collection service for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire is also expected to restart at a reduced capacity in the next two weeks.

Pressure has been mounting across the country to allow household recycling centres to reopen following reports of increased fly-tipping.

The county council’s executive director for place and economy, Steve Cox, told the council’s economy and environment committee on Thursday (April 23) that plans are being prepared for household recycling centres to reopen.

Mr Cox said: “They are obviously closed at the moment. Plans, this week, are being prepared, so we will have a draft plan at the end of this week, beginning of next, to start to look at.

“Timing-wise, I think it’s difficult. The essential reasons for leaving the home that are set out very clearly by Government for food, supplies or exercise, are clear – they don’t include, obviously, a trip to the (household recycling centre).

“That guidance may change as we move forward. If it is to change, we want to make sure that we are ready to reopen the (household recycling centres), so that plan is being put in place for that eventuality.

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“The issues will be around ensuring social distancing when those centres are reopened. But also important is traffic management.

“We all know there is a huge pent-up demand for people to want to use the (household recycling centres), and that will no doubt release when they are able to reopen, so we are putting in place as part of that plan how we can make sure there isn’t any impact on the road network.”

Mr Cox said the council is working with the police and others to prepare.

He also added reopening will need to be coordinated with other authorities to prevent too much pressure on any one area.

He said: “We are working closely with all our neighbouring authorities because there has to be a coordinated reaction or response.

“It will be difficult I think if any one authority chose to open the (household recycling centres) while others don’t, because I think there will be a flood potentially of visits to that county or that local authority area.”

Leader of the county council, councillor Steve Count, told the council’s general purposes committee on April 23 that the Government has clear guidelines for when people can leave their homes.

He listed four reasons: to buy food, for medical reasons, to work if you cannot work from home, and for daily exercise.

Cllr Count said: “Unless the Government offers up new guidance, that the reasons to leave home are different to those, then it is inappropriate to open the household recycling centres at the moment.

“So this is the national picture, and probably 95 per cent of councils, I only know of one council in the country that has a household recycling centre open.

“We are awaiting Government advice on whether they wish to change the guidance to allow household recycling centres to reopen, and in the meantime we are working to actually look at a plan on how that may be achieved should that advice change.

“But until that advice changes, the household recycling centres remain shut.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, said: “There are quite serious issues for some people with the closure of the recycling centres, and in some areas no bulky waste collection.”

She said those living in small accommodation may struggle if they need to dispose of large items such as broken white goods.

“I don’t think that’s something we can just leave in the long-term, we do need to get some answers about how quickly those are going to be reopened,” she said.

Cllr Count said it is a “national subject” and that there are “a lot of people in agreement that we want to get these open when it’s safe to do so. But also, we do not want to dampen down the message to the public about the four core reasons they should leave the house”.

Cllr Count said: “There are a number of staff that have been deployed from those sites to help in other areas that we would need to work out how they would come back.

“We have had reports nationally that those areas that stop the garden waste collections – I think in Cambridgeshire that is South Cambs and the city – there have been increased incidents of fly tipping.

“Those are district council matters, and I don’t believe there are any restrictions on that happening, it is possible for district councils to collect bulky waste.”

Lib Dem councillor Lorna Dupre said she recognised government guidance on acceptable trips does not specify trips to the tip, but said: “However, the guidance that Government has issued for local authorities on household recycling centres envisages household recycling centres being open under certain conditions.”

She said there is a “conflict in the government guidance that needs to be sorted out, because it is quite clear with the guidance on dealing with waste and recycling that household recycling centres are not automatically shut”.