Cuts to tip opening hours will go ahead

Coun Bill Hoult outside the Household Waste Recycling Centre on Wetherby Road, Harrogate. (1602092AM2)
Coun Bill Hoult outside the Household Waste Recycling Centre on Wetherby Road, Harrogate. (1602092AM2)

Opening times at tips across the borough will be shortened next month after North Yorkshire County Council agreed to push ahead with its proposals despite opposition from councillors.

The authority is reducing the opening hours of all its 20 Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC), including two in Harrogate and one in Ripon, from April 1.

Changes include all centres now closing at 5pm, instead of 7pm, between April and September each year, and at 4pm, instead of 5pm, between October and March.

It comes after councillors on the Transport, Econony and Environment Scrutiny Committee voted against referring the decision back to the council’s seven area committees after it was called-in by the authority’s Lib Dem leader, County Coun Bill Hoult (Knaresborough).

Coun Hoult, who claims the move will put added pressure on sites at weekends, said: “We had the meeting and we put our views forward.

“One or two members suggested that some of the tips opened later, but they were told the option hadn’t been considered in the original consultation. We thought that was evidence it should go to area committees and be looked at locally.”

Coun Hoult believes the council’s executive members did not want the decision to be referred back to the area committees due to cost.

He said: “They were worried about how complicated the process would be, as well as the associated costs of officers having to go with a report to every area committee.

“Our arrangement is that we have area committees for this sort of thing and that’s the cost of democracy. What is the point of having them if they aren’t prepared to take reports to it because it costs too much in officers time?”

Six members of the scrutiny committee voted against putting the decision back to the area committees, with four supporting and one abstaining.

Coun Hoult said: “This was the last chance to change the decision but we just didn’t win the argument.”

It is hoped the move will save the county council £150,000 a year by 2018.

A county council spokesperson said: “A consultation was carried out in 2013 about specific changes in the HWRC service in order to reduce costs The first round of savings from this was the introduction of charges for soil and rubble, which we introduced in 2014. The council needs to find further savings hence this second round.

“The decision was not originally presented to area committees as the implications were not ‘local’ issues but ones affecting all HWRCs across the county.

“The consultation included a range of potential savings, including the ones now being implemented, but also allowed for people to propose other options. There was no proposal for opening later in the morning.

“We have not proposed opening later as evidence of the use of HWRCs shows they are used more in the mornings than later in the evening.”