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Fury at recycle centre closure

PUBLISHED: 06:12 02 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:09 07 July 2010

Council bosses have been accused of being "short-sighted" over plans to close one of Norfolk's recycling centres, with furious families urging them to reconsider the proposal.

Council bosses have been accused of being “short-sighted” over plans to close one of Norfolk's recycling centres, with furious families urging them to reconsider the proposal.

Norfolk County Council has earmarked the recycling centre in Docking for closure, sparking anger from people who say the move will see a surge in fly-tipping.

The council says the Docking centre, at Docking Common, off Fakenham Road, needs to close to make way for a new one to open in Dereham.

The new centre is needed because there is a gap in facilities in central Norfolk, according to council bosses and they suggest people in Docking and surrounding villages could instead head to recycling centres in Heacham, Hempton and Wells.

But, at a meeting of the county council's cabinet on Monday users of the centre made clear their feelings to councillors, with 16 members of the public tabling questions about the proposal.

They said they were “horrified” by plans to shut the Docking centre, saying people would not bother to drive to the other centres and fly-tipping would increase.

Joy Hack, clerk of Docking Parish Council, was among those who posed questions. She said: “Local people feel that the recycling centre gives a good service and is used regularly, how can this site close just because it collects lower tonnage than other sites?

“It still offers a very valuable service to the local area, which includes many villages. Does it have to be cost effective to offer a good service and much needed facility?

“The county council should meet the needs of the local people. Why rob one site to fund another one at Dereham which will be of no use to local people, being a 60 mile round trip.”

The concerns were shared by Andrew Morrison, who represents Heacham on the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk and Michael Chenery of Horsbrugh, the county councillor for Docking, who simply asked: “Why?”

Ian Monson, cabinet member for waste and environment, said: “All recycling centres need to operate in a cost effective manner to provide best value to Norfolk's tax payers.

“The proposal does not reflect the quality of service at the site. Ultimately the site has considerably less usage and tonnage throughput than any other site in the county.

“In a time where the authority needs to save £140m over the next three years, efficiencies such as these have to be considered, particularly where alternatives exist.”

He added the cost of fly-tipping after other centres closed had been very small and said the council had considered whether it could open the site part-time, but concluded health and safety issues meant the site needed two people to operate it, so would not have been cost effective.

Mr Monson added the closure was only a proposal at this stage and said a public meeting next month would give people another chance to make their views known to councillors.

The meeting will be held at Ripper Hall in Docking from 7pm on Friday, February 12.

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