Councillors on the CE environment and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee were asked today to discuss highly controversial plans to close Household Waste and Recycling Centres`on the basis of an eight-slide presentation.
The slides were published late with no accompanying officer report. The results of the public consultation which attracted over 10,000 responses was summed up in a single table. The lack of the Consultation report is in contravention of the Council’s own protocol whereby the results of public consultations must be published on the CEC website.
The cross-party Committee highlighted their concerns at the inadequacy of the information provided and at the recommendations to close the Congleton site, which in the absence of a full report, appear to be based solely on the fact that the site lease will expire later in 2021 and that this will provide an opportunity to save money. It was made very clear that the £4m identified in the Capital addendum in 2018/19 had not been subject to a revised business case and was not going to be brought forward.
Cllr Paul Findlow, who was chairing the meeting, expressed disappointment at how poorly this important item had been prepared and that in the absence of the full reports, he had reservations that the committee would be able to offer any meaningful comment.
Congleton Town Councillor Robert Douglas spoke eloquently of his concerns about the inaccuracy of data presented in the Consultation that focused on data gathered in the middle of the coronavirus restrictions of 2020 rather than in times of ‘normal useage’.
Congleton Councillors Sally Holland and David Brown raised concerns around the rise in housing construction in the town that would give rise to a greater demand for these services and that longer journeys were in direct contradiction of the Council’s Environment Strategy as residents will have to travel much further to access distant sites.
Cllrs June Buckley (Alsager) and Dennis Murphy (Congleton) expressed similar concerns including worries about the rise in demand at adjacent sites that would result in further congestion and queuing at Alsager and Macclesfield.
Cllr David Jefferay (Wilmslow) raised the lack of any specific mention about the future of Poynton’s waste site, describing that the meeting, (in the absence of proper reports), felt more like a ‘tick box exercise’ - an issue picked up by visiting Cllr Mike Stewart who highlighted that the recommendations clearly stated that the administration “may need to consider further site closures”. Cllr Laura Crane (the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Waste) confirmed that further site closures would be considered by the relevant committee after May.
A final report and recommendations will be considered by Cabinet in March.