Teignbridge dumps skips

Rural service abandoned

Teignbridge councillors have axed a rural skip service.

Teignbridge District Council was the only one in Devon that paid for a service for residents from rural areas who need to travel long distances to their nearest recycling centre to dispose of bulky goods. But with facing financial pressures and a £2m budget black hole, the council’s executive made the call to cut the service to save £60,000.

The service had been suspended since the coronavirus lockdown in March, and the meeting heard that residents who have bulky items to dispose of can take them to their nearest recycling centre, arrange collection through the Teignbridge ‘Bulky Waste Collection Service’ or make private arrangements for the disposal of their items.

Making the recommendation, Cllr Alistair Dewhirst, executive member for environmental services, said: “I didn’t become a councillor just to cut services but we find ourselves in extraordinary times. We have a massive £2 million hole in our finances and it would require additional and staffing costs to restart it.” He said that annual frequency of the service means its removal is unlikely to lead to an increase in fly tipping in any given area, and that it hadn’t so far since April.

Cllr Dewhirst added: “We will provide advice and assistance to the parish councils who wish to do it themselves, but with a heavy heart, I propose this to you. I do think we have an amazing service in our bulky waste service, but we have to cut our cloth according to what we have.”

Leader of the council Cllr Alan Connett said that this was a very difficult decision and that they took no joy in having to make it, while Cllr Stephen Purser said that there was a slight acceptance that this was going to have to be the way things happen with the way the world is going at the moment.

Chris Braines. waste and cleansing manager, in his report to the committee, said:  “The annual frequency of the service means its removal is unlikely to lead to an increase in fly tipping in any given area. There is also potential for our officers to provide the Town and Parish Councils with advice and assistance with their own arrangements to deliver the service should they wish to continue to provide it themselves.”

He added: “There is currently no clear timeline for the lifting of social distancing measures and as a result there would be a significant additional budget pressure to resume and continue the service. As this is a non-statutory service that increases costs and is detrimental to our waste performance it is recommended that the provision of the Rural Skip Service is discontinued.”

The executive, bar an abstention from Cllr Purser, voted to remove the service.

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