THE LEADER of Wokingham Borough Council has said it makes sense to follow the lead of another local council and suspend disputed charges for DIY waste. But he also warned that any halting of the fees would rely on agreement from neighbouring councils.
West Sussex County Council has announced it is to follow the Government’s advice and suspend charges to residents taking household waste to its recycling centres.
Now, pressure is being placed on re3, Wokingham Borough Council’s civic amenity site operator, to do the same.
The Government has unveiled a new strategy to reduce litter and fly-tipping and included a specific section on residents leaving DIY waste at the recycling centres. The recommendation is that “legally, household waste is supposed to be free to dispose of at such sites”.
As we revealed in the current issue of The Wokingham Paper, re3 – which operates recycling centres in Reading and Bracknell – is currently standing by its charges despite the advice of the Government. But this may change.
Responding to a post on Facebook, Wokingham borough council leader Cllr Keith Baker, said that suspending the charges was the right thing to do, but it needed agreement from his counterparts in Reading borough and Bracknell Forest councils.
He said: “I have asked our Wokingham representative to discuss suspension of charges as it makes sense. But it does rely on both Bracknell Forest and Reading Councils agreeing as they can outvote Wokingham.”
If the charges for the re3 sites are scrapped, they will follow West Sussex County Council, which revealed that it is axing its charges while a consultation for the Government’s waste strategy takes place.
Nathan Elvery, Chief Executive at West Sussex County Council, said: “In order to avoid any potential confusion for our residents in West Sussex we have decided to suspend all charges for these type of materials with immediate effect until the review by the Government has been concluded.
“Householders visiting any West Sussex amenity site will no longer be charged for the deposit of material which results from the sort of work householders would normally carry out on their homes – what most people would refer to as DIY waste.”
The charges will be reviewed when the Government reveals the results of its consultation.
Earlier this week, a spokesperson for re3 said: “We are also pleased the strategy has acknowledged that clarification is needed on the charging issue and, in common with other councils, we will await any further legal guidance from central Government before making any amendments to our current policy.”
But Wokingham Borough Liberal Democrat councillor for Hawkedon, Cllr Clive Jones, feels that re3 should follow the lead of West Sussex County Council and remove the charges while the review takes place.
“I think re3 should be doing the same and the councils [Reading borough, Wokingham borough and Bracknell Forest] should be standing up for residents and telling re3 what to do.
“I’m sure West Sussex have taken legal advice to suspend the charges until the consultation is finished. We should do the same. They should have done this in time for Easter weekend.”
And Cllr Jones, who is the party’s environment spokesperson, hit back at a joint statement made by Wokingham borough councillors Angus Ross and Anthony Pollock, who sit on the re3 board. They accused him of “demonstrating his lack of knowledge on the subject” of DIY waste charges.
Cllr Jones said: “It means that if I don’t know what I’m talking about, then so does West Sussex County Council, Andrea Leadsom and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
“How come Angus and Anthony are such fonts of wisdom?”