Better to pay £1 than end up with tips closing down

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Doubtless there will be those who think talk of charging people to use their local tip is, if you excuse the pun, a load of old rubbish.

They will point out, somewhat forcefully, that they already pay a pretty big whack in council tax each month.

So why should they be charged again at the point of use when they nip down to any of Hampshire’s 24 household waste recycling centres?

In an ideal world, the use of these facilities should remain free to encourage as many people as possible to use them.

But we don’t live in an ideal world.

While tips have been free for years, that is getting harder and harder to maintain as council budgets are squeezed by central government.

The reality is that local authorities such as Hampshire are facing a future of further funding cuts and the money to ensure that tips stay open has to come from somewhere.

Cllr Rob Humby, who is responsible for environment and transport at the county council, says today that all the county tips will continue to operate as normal for now (although from next January opening hours are being cut, out-of-county residents will have to pay £2 a go and there will also be charges introduced for non-domestic waste).

But he is open in revealing his intentions to lobby the government for a change in the law so that in future all residents could be charged to use any tip in the county.

At the moment it is not legally possible for a local authority to charge an access fee to residents and MPs would have to vote for a change in the law.

But without that income (maybe £1 a time), then there is a very real risk that tips will close and people will be tempted to fly-tip, bespoiling the environment for everybody else.

Of course, we’d rather tips remained free.

But if eventually introducing a small charge preserves them, then we reckon it’s a price worth paying.

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