Hard Up Council Pushes to Close Top Class Recycling Centre
The popular, efficient recycling centre in Llangadog, run by All Waste Services Ltd and achieving recycling rates of 80% to 85%, has failed to impress Carmarthenshire County Council, which has singled it out for closure.
The centre is a boon for the people in the north and north-east of the county, who would otherwise face round trips of 40 or 50 miles to dispose correctly of metal, wood, batteries, many plastics, textiles, garden waste, electrical appliances and fittings, old furniture, and other substances which should not be put out for roadside collection in bags coloured black (non-recyclables) or blue (clean paper, card and a limited range of recyclable items).
The contract between All Waste Services, run by Hefin Roberts, and the county council, expires at the end of March, and the council’s plan is just to let it lapse, reckoning that closure will save it £250,000 a year. Coincidentally, this is the same as the unnecessary annual sum to which the council has committed itself to occupy offices in East Gate, Llanelli, offices which it does not need.
Yesterday, January 23rd, saw two public meetings in Llangadog, organised by Llangadog’s county councillor Andrew James (Independent) and at which he and Mr Roberts spoke. The audience voiced incomprehension, as well as annoyance, about the closure. Everyone who spoke at the second meeting, attended by 80 or so people, was opposed to the council’s plan, for many reasons:
- Closure would result in fly tipping, expensive for the council if on the highway and for landowners if dumped on private property, and unsightly for everyone, as well as harbouring potential health hazards.
- The savings sought should come from elsewhere – by cutting the numbers of council staff receiving salaries over £100,000, and by avoiding costly subsidies such as the £20 million or so which has flowed to the Scarlets rugby team.
- The northern, rural parts of the county are being denuded of services. The strong local opposition to the closure of Llandovery’s comprehensive school remains very much in evidence, and the end of recycling in Llangadog would be another blow for the rural population.
- Closure would send a terrible message that the environment is not worth caring about. This point came from Llangadog’s vicar, the Rev. Michael Cottam.
Local county councillors have in the past done too little to stand up for the interests of the people who elected them, said some, and there were also comments that the decision-making processes in the council are undemocratic. This particular cost-cutting proposal was not included in the ‘budget consultation’ seminars which were held around the county in 2013, and although councillors first heard of it in early December, company boss Mr Roberts was not told until six weeks later, less than three months before the end of the contract.
About 10 jobs hang in the balance – important jobs in an area offering few work opportunities.
Councils in Wales are supposed to recycle 70% of household waste by 2025. Every tonne above 70% will incur a penalty of £200. The Llangadog centre is way above this already – but Carmarthenshire as a whole achieved a recycling rate of only 53% in the final three months of 2012, according to a report in the South Wales Guardian in June last year.
The four other recycling centres in the county, at Llanelli, Whitland, Nantycaws near Carmarthen, and Wernddu near Ammanford, are all run by CWM Environmental, owned by the county council but run as a stand-alone business. Last night’s meeting was told that the council’s contracts with CWM have another 18 months to run, so their future is not yet in doubt.
Meanwhile, residents opposed to the closure can contact council leader Kevin Madge (Labour) at County Hall, Carmarthen SA31 1JP, and can also send their opinions to local media such as the Carmarthen Journal and South Wales Guardian.
Pat Dodd Racher