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Queues at Hertfordshire Disposal Sites linked To Cut Backs

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shutterstock_284502005The end of summer is a popular time for a clear out, but getting rid of rubbish became a little bit more difficult for some of us this year, thanks to growing problems with queuing at local disposal sites. Many people who visited the busier waste and recycling centres, such as the one in Hemel Hempstead, found themselves waiting just to get in. The delays at the sites are partly due to the fact that we are in one of the busier periods of the year, but they may also be linked to the recent cut backs in opening hours at disposal sites across Hertfordshire.

Cutting Back on Waste Services

The cut backs are intended to significantly reduce costs for the council over the next few years, but they were initially intended to work by closing down some of the smaller sites rather than by reducing opening hours. The plan had to be changed after a consultation process revealed that local people were opposed to having any of the disposal sites closed down completely. The busy Hemel Hempstead site now opens five days a week, rather than seven, and its summer opening hours have also been cut by a couple of hours a day.

Investigating the Delays

Delays at the disposal sites have been more common this summer, after the reduced hours were put in place, and the council has now announced that it will review the situation in the face of growing numbers of complains. Hertfordshire County Council has seemed reluctant to admit that the problems might be linked to the cuts, according to the Gazette, but it has now accepted that the reduced hours may have exacerbated the problems caused by the busy period at the end of summer. The review will assess the impact that the recent changes to opening hours have had on the service, so we may soon see some new proposals for opening hours in the area. Residents who were opposed to the previously proposed closures will be hoping that the new solution will keep all of the sites open, even if the opening hours have to shift again.

Hertfordshire Searching for New Waste Solution

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Hertfordshire County Council has announced that it will start working with disposal company Veolia to come up with a new waste solution for the area.

Veolia had been expected to run a new waste incinerator in Hatfield, but opposition from local residents led to the cancellation of the project, thanks to a ruling from the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles. The company will now be given the chance to offer an alternative solution for dealing with the waste that is left over in Hertfordshire after the recycling teams have taken their share. The council will give Veolia six months to prepare its new proposal. Upon completion, the council will consider whether to continue working with Veolia or to terminate the contract.

The opportunity for Veolia to come up with an alternative for waste disposal in the county comes at no extra cost to the council, since it was included in the original contract with the firm. Although the council believes that it makes sense to take advantage of this free expertise, some members of the local community have expressed concern about the council working with Veolia again. The initial proposal for an incinerator at New Barnfield was met with significant opposition, so there is some anxiety about what a new proposal might look like.

The concern is particularly high because Veolia is currently in the process of pursuing legal action against the planning decision made by the Secretary of State. Grant Shapps, MP for Welwyn Hatfield, was among those to express doubts about the continuing relationship between the council and Veolia while this legal process is ongoing. If the legal action is successful, the council will then have the opportunity to decide whether the original plan for the incinerator or the new alternative plan will be the better choice. For the moment, the community remains in a state of uncertainty.

Whatever the outcome, the council emphasises that it has plans in place to keep on top of the county’s waste until 2021. This should provide plenty of time to come up with a long term solution that will meet everyone’s needs.

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