Suffolk: Fall in use despite campaigns to save recycling centres

CONCERNS have been raised over the decline in numbers using three of Suffolk’s pay-as-you-throw recycling centres.

The commercially-run sites at Chelmondiston, Bramford and Brome have already reviewed their operations amid a “considerable” fall in demand since the hand-over from the county council transferred the sites, along with three others, to private operators last summer after announcing it could no longer afford to run them.

But six months into the new operating models, issues over their profitability, and therefore long-term futures, have emerged.

Collins Skip Hire has had to alter the charging scale and cut opening hours at its Chelmondiston site because of low usage levels.

Richard Wrinch, chairman of Shotley Parish Council, said: “I don’t think it’s certain it will survive (as it is). There will be something there, what exactly it will be and what type of site I’m not actually sure.”

Mr Wrinch said an appeal had been launched for volunteers to help the centre become more viable.

Councillor Lisa Chambers, portfolio holder for waste at Suffolk County Council, said: “The biggest cost to the site is staffing so if you can reduce these costs that’s going to bring long-term sustainability to the site.”

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She said reviews had been held at Chelmondiston, Bramford and Brome, but that Southwold, Beccles and, in particular, Newmarket were performing better.

Mrs Chambers, asked whether the council would step in to save any of the centres, said: “We would have to review as and when anything happens but we made it clear last year we were closing these sites.”

Meanwhile, John Hooker, chairman of Bramford Parish Council, said he fears for the future of the village’s recycling centre.

He said despite nearly a third of villagers signing a petition to save the site last summer, demand has dropped off since.

“It’s disappointing but there’s not much more we can do,” he said.

Reuben Bolton, commercial director of Bolton Brothers, which runs sites at Bramford and Brome, said demand had dropped by at least 25% since last summer.

“Demand has dropped off considerably and the cold weather is not helping. We have got no intentions of pulling out but obviously it has to be viable.”

Mr Bolton said the drop in numbers had meant the firm had been forced to introduce charges for green and wood waste in contrast to Suffolk County Council-run sites.

He added: “We take all recyclables free of charge. It’s a service we’ll happily provide, provided that people use it.”