Extra help when tip closes in year

BUCKDEN tip will close to the public next year – despite a campaign to retain the facilities and a petition signed by more than 4,000 people. Elderly and infirm people will get extra help when the tip closes, Cambridgeshire County Council has promised. Ex

BUCKDEN tip will close to the public next year - despite a campaign to retain the facilities and a petition signed by more than 4,000 people.

Elderly and infirm people will get extra help when the tip closes, Cambridgeshire County Council has promised. Extra staff will be employed at the alternative sites in St Neots and Alconbury, so people with difficulty climbing steps do not need to do so, said the council's deputy leader, Councillor Roy Pegram yesterday (Tuesday).

But the insistence on closing the tip, which replaced a site in Godmanchester several years ago, has angered Liberal Democrats and 4,300 people who signed a petition urging the county to renegotiate a management agreement for the recycling centre to save money.

Brampton Parish Council Chairman Mike Shellens reacted angrily, saying that all he was asking for was the county council and the owners of the centre, Waste Recycling Group, to get together to see if a new contract could be negotiated. "This is a nonsense," he said. "It is very popular and receives over 130,000 visits a year."


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The 4,300 petition signatories come from all over West Huntingdonshire, the Lib Dems said. From November 2008 those wishing to recycle items will have to go to Alconbury, where the site is an old-fashioned one with skips and steps.

"This is very inconvenient for older and disabled people," Councillor Shellens said. "Roy Pegram's statement that they will provide extra staff to help those who need it, only increases the cost at Alconbury and, in any case, the Alconbury site will not be big enough to meet the demand."

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Cllr Pegram disputes this, saying Huntingdonshire is over-provided with recycling facilities and does not need Buckden.

Even after the extra staff are paid for, the council will save £300,000 a year, he told The Hunts Post. "That is money we can spend on other services."

However, the Lib Dems say the extra mileage of taking recyclable material up to Alconbury from the Huntingdon conurbation will be in excess of a million miles a year, wasting people's time, adding to traffic congestion, wasting petrol and pumping unnecessary extra tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

"The county council pays lip service to tackling climate change but then takes decisions that will make matters worse," said Cllr Shellens.

Cllr Pegram disputes the numbers. "They simply cannot substantiate where these journeys originate. Sometimes it's closer for people to go to a less obvious site," he said. "And it's not commercially viable for the operator if we take away the £300,000 savings."

Brampton Lib Dem Councillor Peter Downes said he was appalled at the dismissive and unhelpful attitude shown by the ruling Tory administration. "They might at least have said they would look into it. The old contract may have been expensive but that expires in October 2008. We are asking both sides to negotiate a new agreement. If they don't even try, we will have lost a much-valued facility."

Cllr Downes is not ready to give up yet. He will be continuing to collect signatures and gather support, he said, and intends to raise the matter again during the forthcoming round of council budget-setting meetings.

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