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Monday, 15 September 2014

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Cumbria council ditches plan to close household rubbish tips

The threat of closure hanging over six household rubbish tips in Cumbria has been lifted.

But keeping them open will mean shorter opening hours at all 14 of the county’s household waste recycling centres, including Carlisle.

Those at Wigton, Brampton, Kirkby Stephen, Millom, Ambleside and Grange-over-Sands had been earmarked for closure to help Cumbria County Council save more than £2 million a year.

Its cabinet has decided to keep them open but cut opening hours instead.

A consultation, which ended last month, brought 2,600 responses – almost all against the closures.

Labour’s Stewart Young, deputy leader of the council, said: “It wasn’t easy to put forward the proposal to close the least used sites.

“But in response to the reaction from the public, our officers have been working extremely hard to come up with alternative proposals.

“They won’t please everybody but they ensure the present provision remains.”

Most of the larger sites open from 8am to 6pm daily.

Under the new plan, those at Carlisle, Flusco (Penrith), Barrow and Kendal will close on Thursdays and Fridays, as will Workington and Frizington – soon to be replaced by a new site at Lillyhall.

Maryport and Ulverston will open four days a week, including Saturdays and Sundays.

Smaller sites such as Wigton and Brampton will open only on two days a week, one of which will be at the weekend. All will shut at 4pm in winter when they are less busy.

Five petitions, with a total of 6,000 signatures, opposing the closures were presented to the cabinet.

Len Baseley, chairman of Pride in Wigton, told councillors: “If the Wigton site closes people will dump their rubbish in lay-bys, grass verges, farm lanes, wherever they can get rid of it.”

And Libby Bateman, from Kirkby Stephen, said: “We don’t think it’s reasonable to expect people in upper Eden to make a 50-mile round-trip to access the centres in Kendal or Penrith.”

Reducing hours will save £1.5m a year by 2013-14, £525,000 less than the council had planned for. It will have to find extra savings elsewhere.

A scrutiny group of councillors was set up in January to look at the way household tips operate. It recommended that none should close.

Speaking after that recommendation was followed through, Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart declared the decision a victory for community campaigners.

“It shows that when the public speaks, they are listened to. I am enormously pleased with our success,” he said.

Brampton parish councillor Geoff Prest added: “I’m quite sure the vast majority of residents in Brampton will be very pleased indeed, not least because it saves them a long journey into Carlisle.”

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