A permit scheme for certain vehicles using West Sussex’s rubbish tips could be introduced to stop ‘waste tourism’ from other areas.
Charges for certain types of DIY waste such as soil, hard core and plasterboard wwere introduced in the county in October, 2016, but was suspended after six months following the publication of the Government’s anti-littering strategy.
However, Surrey County Council has decided to introduce similar charges from January at its Household Waste Recycling Sites (HWRS).
In response, West Sussex County Council is exploring several options to reduce ‘waste tourism’ which include permits for privately owned commercial-type vehicles. These would not involve charging West Sussex residents for permits, and no extra staff would be needed at the sites.
A task and finish group set up to look at opening hours at the sites from spring 2018 onwards has ‘strongly supported’ measures to restrict larger trailers and a residents’ permit/ID scheme to prevent users from outside West Sussex ‘from free-riding at WSCC sites’.
The proposals were discussed by the county council’s Environmental and Community Services Select Committee yesterday (Wednesday November 15).
A spokesman for the county council said: “The council is at this stage looking at several options which include permits for privately owned commercial-type vehicles (so they are distinguishable from vehicles used by traders who might attempt to access sites illegally) trailers and/or proof of residency of West Sussex.”
Reacting to the proposals, Labour county councillor Michael Jones said: “For the Tories to try and introduce this permit scheme with such short notice, is a knee-jerk reaction, and in my view highly questionable.
“It is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“To foil cross-border dumpers from Surrey and Hampshire, they appear to be prepared to insist on opposing an additional bureaucratic obstacle in the way of West Sussex residents using their own tips.”
He added: “It has just been one farce after another with the Tory county council with our amenity tips over the past year or so.
“I am beginning to wonder if Frank Spencer has been put in charge of running our tips.
“You certainly couldn’t make it up, that’s for sure.”
Meanwhile James Walsh, leader of the Lib Dem group at County Hall, added: “We should certainly protect our taxpayers from cross county border ‘trash tourists’ from Hampshire and Surrey trying to take their DIY or other waste to our amenity sites.
“However, a bureaucratic permit system could be too onerous and/or expensive. Proof of residence like a recent utility bill or driving licence should suffice.”
The task-and-finish group has recommended three options for future opening times at the rubbish tip sites, all of which would see the current winter hours of 9am-4pm retained.
The first would see sites open during the summer from 8.30am to 6pm on weekdays, and 9am to 6pm on weekends.
Burgess Hill, Crawley, and Westhampnett rubbish tips are currently open all week, but this option would see them closed for a day a week.
Worthing’s site, which is currently one of those closed for two days a week, would be open an extra day. The second shortlisted option is similar to the first, except Burgess Hill, Weshampnett, Crawley, and Worthing would all be open for six days a week in winter, but seven in the summer.
During the summer, all sites would be open from 9am to 6pm all week.
The third option is almost identical to the second, but during the summer Bognor Regis, Crawley, and Littlehampton would be open on weekdays at 8.30am, as they are described as ‘sensitive critical sites’.
However, these are recommendations and the cabinet member for the environmental will make the final decision.
Since the reduced opening hours were introduced in October 2016, fears about a potential fly tipping have been voiced.
A multi-agency partnership to tackle fly-tipping in West Sussex is currently being piloted with Chichester District Council to complement existing enforcement efforts.
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