York Labour Councillors are urging council bosses and the Police to agree a manageable plan for reopening Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in a way that’s safe for staff and residents.
The call follows Government Minister Robert Jenrick MP asking councils on Tuesday to make re-opening HWRCs a priority. The council closed waste and recycling sites following the lockdown announcement and in response to the Police stance on trips to the sites being deemed “non-essential”.
The closure of the HWRCs comes at a time when the council has also paused its green waste and bulky waste collection services to backfill capacity issues in the “core” household waste and recycling kerbside collection teams.
This is leading to a growing backlog of waste that cannot be collected in fortnightly kerbside collections, with residents left with very few realistic and lawful alternatives to dispose of it. Increases in nuisance bonfires have been recently reported while fly-tipping is on the increase in many parts of the country since the lockdown stopped visits to HWRCs.
Councillor Kallum Taylor, Labour Group spokesperson for the Environment, has written to the Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Councillor Paula Widdowson, and the Police & Crime Commissioner for York and North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan, urging the council and the Police to develop a safe plan to re-open the sites.
“We know the council could open the tips,” he said, “but it understandably won’t if the Police are going to fine residents for going. There’s got to be a safe and manageable way through here.
“The knock-on effects of classing trips to the tips as non-essential are a backlog of waste in people’s homes along with increases in fly-tipping and nuisance bonfires which, considering the stage we are now at in the lockdown, should be clear enough to force a re-think. The council and Police need to build a shared plan which gives residents a timely and lawful option to dispose of non-kerbside waste, and helps maintain a safe and healthy city.
“Re-opening the tips with social distancing and controls in place, perhaps on an appointment-only basis, will ease pressure by giving residents an outlet to dispose of non-kerbside waste properly, and beat a worrying and growing backlog across the city since the lockdown started.”