Shropshire Star

Concerns grow that two out of four Shropshire recycling centres could be closed

Concern is rising over the future of several household recycling centres in Shropshire, despite a leading councillor saying "if we don't have to close them, we won't."

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Bridgnorth recycling centre. Photo: Google

The possible closure of two centres out of Craven Arms, Bridgnorth, Oswestry and Whitchurch was raised as part of Shropshire Council's budget process. The centre at Shrewsbury is understood to be safe.

Disquiet at the possibility of closure was raised at a residents meeting in Ludlow on Saturday and local county councillor Andy Boddington has vowed to fight to keep Craven Arms open.

The councillor in charge of the possible decision says he understands the concerns and if they don't have to make a decision to close them, they won't.

Social media sites are buzzing with comments on how people do not want to lose the centres where they can drop off all sorts of items for recycling.

Councillor Boddington said “Shropshire Council has had a good reputation on recycling. Closure of two household recycling centres will destroy that reputation.

“Many people won’t be able to get to a household recycling centre 30 miles away. Even more will not want to do so.

“That will lead to two consequences. Firstly, there will be more stuff that could be recycled in the black bin sent to incineration. Secondly, there will be more fly-tipping.

“These moves are not to the disadvantage of Shropshire Council. The more waste that goes into the black bin the more profit it will get from the Battlefield Incinerator.

“Whitcliffe is one of Ludlow’s green lungs and fly-tipping there will get worse if Craven Arms household recycling centre is closed.

“We intend to make the strongest possible protests over any closure to Craven Arms household recycling centre. In 2014, Shropshire Council closed the Ludlow household recycling centre. That led to more fly-tipping and more recyclables going into the black bin for incineration.

“We need a rethink of this policy before the council trashes our county’s green credentials forever.”

But Councillor Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council's Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, said any decision is not imminent.

He added that if such a decision has to be made it will follow a full public consultation exercise and be subject to ratification by the Cabinet and full council.

Councillor Nellis said: "It is something that we do not want to do and if we can find a way for it not to happen then it won't happen.

"No decision has been made on what two sites might close."

Councillor Nellins, who lives in Market Drayton and already has to travel to a site, said he understood the concerns people have.

"We have the same issue in Market Drayton of having to travel. I would love to have one in Market Drayton.

"But this won't be about who shouts the loudest, it will be a decision based on the most economic value.

"If we can we will hold off a decision, we understand the arguments."

Councillor Nellins said there would be no immediate decision and it "could be next year" and was because of the need for the council to have a balanced budget.

"There will be a consultation, a cabinet meeting and a lot of research before anything happens."

The council is also eyeing up charging for its green waste collections as it looks at making millions of pounds in cuts.

"We are being forced to make difficult decisions but if we can find a way not to do this then we won't do it."

Last week Shropshire Council approved a five per cent council tax rise and a £62 million package of budget cuts.

Councillor Lezley Picton told a heated meeting of Shropshire Council that the authority had taken “really tough decisions” to balance its budget in the face of a bleak financial landscape for local government.

But opposition group leaders said the administration had wasted its capital money on ‘shiny projects’ and claimed the council’s financial strategy had failed.

The council’s cost cutting measures include shrinking the organisation by 300 staff.

Councillor Picton said: “It’s really tough. Any proposals that result in job losses and changes or cessation of services is heartbreaking.

“However, this budget will protect services, it will save the council from what is happening in other authorities where services are being cut completely."

She added that "right now in Shropshire and in councils across the country we are entering seriously dark times.

"The simple truth is, local government is struggling like never before.”