Hertfordshire, County Of OpportunityA week after the local elections the Conservative run county council has announced they plan to award a new commercial contract to run its Household Waste sites that will mean two will close and others will see a massive reduction in opening hours with sites closing at 4pm and two day closures.

Opposition Liberal Democrat Councillors had already warned that agreeing to a new contract without discussing it with councillors was wrong.   The Conservatives have proposed a public consultation on the changes.

Leader Democrat Leader Stephen Giles-Medhurst (Central Watford and Oxhey), said, “ I am all for public consultation but the Conservatives have already set the goal posts, closure and restricted hours- are they being honest if the public say no to both, will they then dump the contractor?  Frankly I have no faith in their public consultation process on this judging by the way they have ignored the public in the past. They ignored the massive objections to the closure of the  Watford Wiggenhall Waste  and Tring household waste recycling sites with tens of thousands of objections. It seems that the decision has been taken already behind closed doors. How nice they held off telling anyone until after the local elections!”

Environment Spokesperson, Sandy Walkington  (St Albans South), said, “Asking for cost savings in the operation of the network is one thing, of course there are savings to be made.  Putting the customer first should still have been at the core of the service.  Instead the proposals smack of operator convenience”

“We will need to see the justification for the closure of the Hoddesdon and Elstree sites.  But the proposed random weekday closure of the remaining sites and restricting their opening hours to 8 am to 4 pm could not be more customer unfriendly.   Are they really suggesting that having found that Waterdale site – the most used in the county is closed on a set day residents then drive 16miles to Rickmansworth- stupid comes to mind and flytipping is more likely if this goes ahead!  How many householders will realistically want to use the 8 am slot given work and school runs?    It’s a licence for fly-tipping,” Sandy said.

The Liberal Democrats have particularly condemned the proposal for a 4 pm closing time at weekends when most sites are open till 6pm, as being completely at odds with the way that residents lead their busy lives.

 “At the weekend in particular, people want to come to the sites at the end of the day when they have done their clearing up.. A 10am opening and 6pm closing with no random  weekday closures is the service that residents expect” said the Liberal Democrats.