West Suffolk councils’ plans for shared waste transfer and recycling hub set to move forward

New recycling centre planned

New recycling centre planned - Credit: Archant

Council chiefs in west Suffolk are being asked to take the next step in a process which could see three councils’ recycling, waste transfer and depot operations all working from one site on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds.

The proposal is part of a business case being developed to examine the financial and other benefits of Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils working with Suffolk County Council on a new shared operational hub.

The innovative approach includes inviting other public sector organisations that have fleets of vehicles, with all the associated costs such as maintenance and fuel, to join the partnership and make it more cost effective.

Creating the shared facility would also free up space next to West Suffolk House in Western Way for the second phase of a new ‘public service village’ which would bring together partner organisations in one location to make it easier for people to access a range of public services.

An update on progress, which assumes the closure of the Bury St Edmunds and Mildenhall depots, will be put to St Edmundsbury’s Cabinet on February 10, a week later at Forest Heath and to the county council’s cabinet on February 24.

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The two depots, along with the household waste recycling centre on Rougham Hill, would move to the Hollow Road Farm site where a new Suffolk County Council waste transfer station would also be built.

If the councils’ cabinets agree to proceed further, the project will move on to the pre-planning stage, which will include a month of consultation before an application is submitted to St Edmundsbury as the local planning authority.

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The consultation would start on 9 March and include an exhibition and drop-in session. There are still a number of steps to be taken before a final decision is made but if all stages are approved the new site could be open in late 2016/early 2017.

Leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, John Griffiths, said: “It’s early days yet but the work so far shows there would be tremendous benefits for west Suffolk taxpayers through creating a single hub for all our vehicle and other operations, especially if we can bring more partners on board as well.

“In west Suffolk we have a strong, and very successful, track record of making large-scale savings from sharing services with other organisations and I am confident that together we can make a success of this new venture.”

James Waters, Forest Heath District Council leader, said bringing so many services together would cut costs and create a better public recycling centre, improved facilities for maintenance and better road access for heavy vehicles.

He added: “Just as importantly, it will give us an opportunity to chase other business and use the income from that to cut our overheads even further. The national ‘One Public Estate’ programme is all about pulling the public sector together – our pioneering project shows we’re absolutely on that page.”

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