USERS of Whitby’s waste recycling centre are being asked for their views on proposed changes to the opening times at the site.
The changes come into effect from July and are being introduced in a bid to save North Yorkshire County Council money.
Tony Norris, the council’s waste services manager, said there was a need to cut £500,000 from the waste management budget and it was important for waste centre users to have a say in any changes.
He said: “It’s still early days and so far we’ve had hundreds of responses. I’d expect that by the end of February, we will have had a few 1,000.”
Currently the 19 sites across the county – including one in the Whitby area at the town’s industrial estate in Cholmley Way - which are open seven days a week and the service costs £5.1m a year to operate.
Mr Norris said that, in the current economic climate, the council had no choice but to reduce spending across a range of services.
He added: “We will have to save at least £200,000 from April in contract management costs and this can only be achieved by reducing the opening hours of the Household Waste Recycling Centre network as this will create savings in operation and management fees.
“The standard of the service provided at the centres will not be reduced; customers can still expect a high quality service collecting a wide range of materials for reuse, recycling or composting.”
An added benefit is that reduced opening hours may enhance the service quality as we can carry out routine maintenance, servicing, site improvements etc whilst the site is closed to the public.”
Mr Norris said that research had shown that Sunday mornings were typically quiet.
“We are aware that a change in opening hours may cause inconvenience to some customers and so we are carrying out a consultation exercise on two options that will achieve the required level of saving, “ he said.
He added that it was important to get the views of the service users and forms outlining the two options being considered were handed out by council staff to every visitor. The changes which have been suggested are:
*every centre would close on Sunday mornings as well as one day midweek – with nearby sites open l all centres closed on the same day midweek day.
*People taking part in the survey have been asked to provide their addresses to allow the service to map where site users were travelling from.
The site at Whitby is currently open seven days a week and only closes on 25 and 26 December and 1 January.
Mr Norris said: “The change will just be for one day a week less. How many services do you get seven days a week, 362 days a year.
“Assuming everything goes through without too much trouble from July it could save us £150,000 during the next financial year.”
The consultation is due to last for one month and the results of the survey would be publicised in due course.