Anger over cuts to tip opening hours across the Harrogate borough

County Coun Bill Hoult outside the Wetherby Road recycling centre. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1602092AM1)

County Coun Bill Hoult outside the Wetherby Road recycling centre. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1602092AM1)

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The leader of the Liberal Democrats at North Yorkshire County Council has called-in a decision to shorten opening times at tips across the borough.

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, during March and October.

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

However, Lib Dem leader County Coun Bill Hoult (Knaresborough) claims the move will put added pressure on sites at weekends, in particular Wetherby Road, Harrogate, which is one of the most heavily utilised in the county.

He is calling for a consulation at local level and has urgently requested that the decision be put on hold.

He said: “Anybody who has ever used Wetherby Road recyling centre knows it gets horrendousely busy, particulalry on weekends and this will make it worse.

“If you close sites on a weekday it means you effectively cut out a lot of people who take waste during the week after they get home from work. It’s going to put a tremendous amount of strain on centres at weekends.

“From my point of view if they want to make changes like this they should be put to the county council’s area committees, so people who actually use it can have their say.”

The decision to bring in the charges was made by the county council last Friday.

Following backing from six other councillors, Coun Hoult has called-in the decision and it is now likely to go before a scrutiny committee, which can ask for the decision to be reconsidered.

Coun Hoult said: “It’s disappointing really after the issue with the grit bins, which was just done without proper consultaton, and the parking charges proposals in Harrogate.

“You can’t just bounce these things through. You should be able to debate it at a local level.

“To do it across the board like this without proper consultation is unacceptable.”

A county council spokesman argued that a “widely publicised consultation” had taken place in 2013.

He said: “The county council knows that HWRCs are highly valued by the public. It currently operates 20 across the county at an annual cost of about £5.6m. The latest operational changes are designed to maintain as comprehensive a service as possible, while making savings to the cost of the service. Figures show that most HWRC users visit during the middle of the day, with fewer people visiting between 4pm and 7pm.

“A widely publicised consultation held between October and December 2013 sought public views on a range of proposed changes at HWRCs, including reductions in opening hours.

“There are no plans for this decision to go before the council’s seven area committees.”