Derbyshire County Council scheme is part of cost-saving plans following large increases in waste disposal at its nine sites and after a multi-million pound out-of-court settlement payout by the council and Derby City Council following a dispute with a waste management team.
Plans also agreed at a council cabinet meeting on Thursday, July 27, include a public consultation to consider reducing waste site opening times, possibly charging residents for disposing of tyres or asbestos and possible limits on the free disposal of DIY waste.
The consultation will also consider allowing local businesses and smaller, sole traders to dispose of waste at some sites for a reasonable charge.
Council Leader, Councillor Barry Lewis, told a cabinet meeting: “This is a sensible and credible exercise and gives us clear options to improve services and to save us money as well.”
Cabinet members approved plans to spend up to £200,000 to install an ANPR system at waste sites which will not only identify vehicle interlopers from outside Derbyshire using the county’s waste sites but will also allow them to be charged.
The approved public consultation will consider reducing the hours or days that centres should be open from seven days a week based on possibly closing during less busy periods and remaining open at busier times. The council stated that this practice would bring the authority in line with many other council-run recycling centres outside of Derbyshire.
In addition, the council will be asking what people think of charging residents to dispose of tyres and asbestos at the recycling centres, and possibly supporting local businesses and sole traders by allowing them to dispose of commercial waste at some recycling centres for a reasonable charge because currently trade waste is not accepted.
The consultation will also allow people to have their say on whether the council should adopt the Government definition on the limited amounts of DIY waste that can be disposed of at recycling centres for free, with residents being allowed to dispose of construction waste not more than four times over a four-week period with limits on the quantities.
Councillor Carolyn Renwick, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Environment, previously said: “We have a responsibility to provide a place for residents to dispose of their waste and the range and scope of the service offered at our household waste recycling centres has always gone above and beyond the level we legally need to provide.
“With rising costs and increasing demands on council budgets, we need to make sure we’re spending every penny wisely and by introducing number plate recognition technology we can ensure we limit access to Derbyshire residents only which will help to reduce the cost to Derbyshire council tax-payers which [will] help to fund the service.”
The plans have arisen after a 32 per cent increase in the amount of waste collected at the sites since 2017 and 2018 which has risen to 85,000 tonnes a year, costing an extra £700,000-£800,000 in annual disposal and recycling costs. This increase coincided with neighbouring councils outside Derbyshire introducing measures to restrict people living outside of their area from using their recycling centres.
Cllr Renwick explained some traders often generate small amounts of waste below the minimum tonnages accepted by commercial waste disposal sites which means their costs can be disproportionately higher so the council wants to consider offering a service for businesses to pay to dispose of their waste at some recycling centres which could help cut costs and generate income for the council.
The county council is also not required to accept tyres and asbestos at the recycling centres and even though it currently does so at no charge most neighbouring councils either charge residents or do not accept these materials. Derbyshire’s sites collect seven times more asbestos and tyres per resident compared to Derby City Council, according to the county council.
Deputy Council Leader, Cllr Simon Spencer, told the cabinet meeting: “Obviously, it’s always difficult to have a conversation about changes we are required to make but we have to make savings. We also want to improve the service in doing so as well. We have an extensive opening hours regime at this time across Derbyshire as a whole.”
He added: “We are very open-minded in this consultation process, but I do think offering those services to small traders is a sensible option.”
Councillor Renwick told the cabinet meeting that the council provides an excellent service on a tight budget and it is great news that people are recycling but the council needs to reduce opening hours.
She has also previously stated that a balance is needed between continuing to provide a quality household waste recycling centre service and keeping costs down.
Derbyshire County Council and Derby City Council recently agreed to pay out a joint total of £93.5m in an out-of-court settlement to a waste management team’s administrators following a dispute.
Resource Recovery Solutions, which was a partnership between infrastructure firm Interserve and waste management company Renewi, was awarded a contract by Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council in 2009 to manage both councils’ residual waste, and design, build, commission, and operation of a waste treatment facility in Sinfin, Derby.
But the county council stated that after RRS failed to pass commissioning tests by an agreed date the authorities lawfully terminated the contract in August 2019 and a process began to determine the Adjusted Estimated Fair Value compensation of the contract to be awarded to either RRS or the councils.
Both councils resolved in July to accept the settlement and pay RRS £93.5m to protect council tax-payers from the risk of further significant costs.