Northumberland County Council has confirmed that the opening days at five Household Waste Recovery Centres (HWRCs) will be reduced from next month as part of cost-cutting measures.
From Tuesday, October 4, sites at North Sunderland, Wooler, Kirkley West Thorn, Allendale and Haltwhistle will open four days a week – Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays – down from seven days a week.
Opening times will remain unchanged – 8am to 6pm in the winter (November 1 to March 31) and 8am to 7.30pm in the summer (April 1 to October 31).
The council has worked closely with SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK, the contractor which manages the sites, to ensure that the changes affect as few residents as possible and to maintain its widespread network of 12 sites across the county.
The other seven HWRCs at Berwick, Alnwick, Morpeth, Bebside, North Seaton, Prudhoe and Hexham remain unaffected and will continue to open seven days a week.
The decision follows a consultation process with stakeholders who were asked to consider the proposal to reduce opening days or suggest alternatives, which might also deliver the savings.
However, at last Monday’s meeting of North Sunderland Parish Council, members were scathing about the consultation process, saying their views had been ignored. They wanted the opening times to be reduced across all 12 sites, meaning less of a reduction at each site.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, the county council’s cabinet member for local services, said: “I am very pleased that we have found a way to keep all of our centres open. In a perfect world, there would be no need for reductions, but the severity of our budget cuts means we can no longer afford to carry on as before.
“The majority of residents will be unaffected by the new opening arrangements and can continue to deliver their waste to one of our 12 conveniently located HWRCs.
“By doing a few things differently, most residents will be able to combine their DIY and gardening activities with the opening days of their local centre.
“I would also like to urge people to continue to dispose of their waste responsibly and preserve the natural beauty of Northumberland. Fly-tipping is a serious offence, punishable with a fine of up to £400 and even a jail sentence, and there are many other ways to dispose of waste.”
Residents are asked to consider a host of other waste disposal options if the new arrangements don’t suit them, such as reusing or donating unwanted items to charity, composting or requesting bulky waste collections.
More information about the council’s waste and recycling services is available at www.northumberland.gov.uk/waste