The recent public consultation over changes to recycling services in Hertfordshire revealed substantial opposition to the closure of two local recycling sites, and demand for services to be made available at evenings and weekends, even if overall opening hours had to be cut.
Hertfordshire is not alone in having cuts proposed to its rubbish removals and recycling services. Other councils around the UK have also been looking for ways to cut down on their spending in order to cope with their ongoing financial hardships. It seems that our waste services are an easy target for budget cuts, despite their importance for public health and the environment.
A similar situation arose last year in another part of the country, when drastic cuts were proposed to waste services. The East Sussex council announced that it was hoping to close down three of its recycling centres. A public consultation was held to discuss the idea, and the resulting outcry was so extreme that the council had to change its plans. At the beginning of October, they announced that rather than getting rid of these sites completely, they will simply have their opening hours cut. The cuts will still be severe, with the sites reduced to opening for just three days a week, but this will enable the sites to be saved, while the council can save £1.8 million over the next 18 years of their contract with the waste service provider.
Despite the pressure for councils to keep finding ways to cut costs, the consultation process underwent a similar pattern in Hertfordshire. The council considered the various surveys, letters, and petitions that were handed in as part of the public consultation, and decided that closures were not the right way to reduce spending. Instead, new schedules will be created to keep every disposal site in Hertfordshire open, with hours designed to make life as easy as possible for local people. The council has also recommended that the new waste service provider, AmeyCespa, should make every effort to increase recycling in the area by reaching out to the community and promoting reuse and recycling.