As the county council’s amenity tips continue to remain closed across West Sussex, Labour councillors are pressing the county council to take urgent steps to re-open them with appropriate distancing measures in place, as tips elsewhere in the county have already begun to operate again and West Sussex residents report increased fly tipping in their areas.
West Sussex Labour Group Leader Councillor Michael Jones has written today to Cabinet Member for the Environment at the Tory-run council Deborah Urquhart, raising deep concerns over the continued indefinite closure of all of the county’s amenity tips.
In response to the coronavirus, West Sussex County Council hurriedly shut tips soon after the full lockdown was imposed, on 22 March 2020. The Tory county council claimed that it had proved difficult due to the design of the tips to get people to sufficiently socially distance.
Reports coming into Labour councillors from residents from around the county has indicated a significant increase in complaints about fly tipping and increasing frustration from residents who cannot dispose of waste which is not appropriate to be put in the general waste collection bins at home.
There are also reports that in addition these closures have also prompted an increase in home bonfires across the county. This is also a cause of concern as bonfire smoke can aggravate people with coronavirus and other respiratory diseases. Local councils have put out news releases asking people to cease lighting bonfires, for this very reason.
In his letter, Cllr Jones warns the Cabinet Member that such reports are indicating that residents are becoming under increasing stress and pressure during the lockdown about disposing rubbish and that not only was this likely to risk the increase of inappropriate things being put in household bins, residents are reporting more fly tipping which is also having a negative impact on their quality of life.
In his letter, Cllr Jones further calls for efforts to be made by the Tory county council to re-open all the tips in West Sussex, perhaps with an appointment-based system where members of the public can arrange either online or through the West Sussex call centre to come to their local tip to dump their waste, with appropriate restrictions in numbers so that social distancing measures can be in place.
Other local authorities elsewhere have now begun to re-open their amenity tips, including Wigan and other councils in the Greater Manchester area.
The Government (DEFRA) has issued updated guidance that encourages councils to keep their Household Waste and Recycling Centres to ensure that bulky waste can continue to be disposed of.
Speaking after sending the letter Cllr Jones said:
“I have already raised this with the Leader of the county council two weeks ago, but if supermarkets and other shops have been able to introduce social distancing measures quickly and effectively, despite their own design constraints, then surely it cannot be beyond the county council to take the steps needed to open the tips in a safe and efficient way.
“The longer this goes on, the more the Tories at West Sussex are letting down every single resident in the county. I doubt they will be offering a rebate for all the services that our residents are currently paying council tax for, but aren’t receiving.”
Local Worthing Borough Council Labour Group Leader, Councillor Beccy Cooper (Marine), agreed with Cllr Jones, adding:
“This is becoming an increasing concern for all of our residents, not just in Worthing but across the whole of the county. It is local council taxpayers who will have to pay
for the consequences of the extra costs of clearing fly tipping and any damage caused to the refuse vehicles’ grinding equipment.
“This is another unfortunate example of the lack of regard that the Tory-run county council has for our local Borough and District councils. Added to their unreasonable withdrawal of recycling credits to those councils last year, it appears the county council couldn’t care less what extra difficulties and burdens they force on our area.”