The County Council has confirmed that residents will be asked their views on how savings can best be made in the running of Hampshire’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) as it deals with the impact of the Government’s announcement on reductions in funding for local councils.
Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “Ongoing reductions in Government funding mean we must continually look very carefully at where we focus our resources to make sure we are using the funding we have wisely.
“However, the scale of funding reductions for councils, particularly in the South of England, announced by the Government in December was much more severe than we had expected, and we are now reviewing our savings plans.
“We have a large number of HWRCs in Hampshire compared with other areas. They are open seven days a week, only closing on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, and it is clear we are no longer in a financial position to be able to provide this level of service.
We have been working on a number of scenarios on which to base a public consultation, asking residents how they think savings could best be made.
We will need to keep all our options open, including the possibility of charging for non domestic waste, reducing opening hours and the pattern of sites across the county.
“We want to hear what the priorities are for Hampshire’s residents before any decisions are made, and we will be analysing details of how, when and which sites are used.
In our consultation in the summer, residents were clear how much they value this service but also agreed on the importance of producing less waste in the first place.
With the county and district councils in Hampshire spending over £100 million dealing with waste each year in Hampshire, reducing overall waste volumes is very important.
“Once we have looked at all the evidence and taken people’s views into consideration, we will finalise proposals on how the savings can be made. It’s important that we listen to what Hampshire’s residents are telling us, consider the facts, and are not misled by any scaremongering about fly-tipping or extensive site closures.
I believe that most people are proud of where they live, and are as keen as I am to maintain Hampshire’s environment and quality of life.
“This whole process will take some months; we want to give people time to let us know what they think, and we then need to analyse all the information very carefully.
We must live within our means, and, at this point nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out.”
Dates for the consultation on potential changes to the HWRC service will be confirmed shortly, when the County Council will be keen to hear from as many people as possible about what they think of the different proposals.
All responses will be analysed and presented to Councillor Woodward to make a decision on any changes later in the year.