Croydon Tories are campaigning against the Conservative Government’s austerity cuts, in particular those which have seen this borough importing rubbish in the back of wealthy Surrey residents’ 4x4s, causing long queues and inconvenience at our local dumps.
Surrey, which has a Conservative-controlled county council, “exported” up to 200 tons of its residents’ rubbish to Croydon in April this year – mainly because the county council that borders our borough has reduced its own recycling centres’ opening times in a money-saving measure caused by Government cuts.
This reality is a bit awkward for Croydon’s Conservatives, who launched a campaign stating that, “Queues have been growing at recycling centres across Croydon, with residents reportedly spending up to an hour waiting to deliver their waste”. The inconvenience, Croydon’s Tories claimed, was “causing frustration, anger but also long traffic delays”.
The ever-opportunistic Croydon Tories tried to link the dump queues to the introduction of charges for green waste collections from Croydon homes. But the hard facts show that the real cause of the lengthy queues is Surrey residents, driving into Croydon to dump their crap because their own county council has closed its waste-management centres for upgrades or to save a bit of cash.
Figures released today show that in April this year, Croydon’s dumps handled 200 tons of rubbish more than in April 2015. Only two tons of this was green waste.
This coincides with Surrey County Council closing its Caterham recycling centre for two months without warning Croydon Town Hall. As part of austerity-driven reduced opening hours, Caterham is now closed on Wednesdays and Warlingham is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Inevitably, Surrey residents have therefore driven to Croydon’s recycling centre at Purley Oaks.
Croydon Council leader Tony Newman has written to his counterpart at Surrey County Council to protest about Surrey’s rubbish being dumped in Croydon.
“The Tory Government’s funding cuts are the root cause of all this,” Newman said.
“In this year’s local authority ‘top-up’ settlement Surrey received £24 million while Croydon got less than £1 million. We have had to make a series of tough decisions including a small charge for green waste, but we have sought to protect public services, like keeping all three of Croydon’s Household Reuse and Recycling Centres open.
“But it is very unfair that our centres, especially Purley Oaks, have suffered increased pressure from Surrey residents and I am calling on Surrey to, at the least, reconsider their approach to their sites in Caterham and Warlingham.”
What Newman and his deputy, Stuart Collins, the cabinet member for environmental services, have failed to address in all this, however, is why Veolia, the council contractors who operate Croydon’s recycing centres, have not managed to introduce a system which checks whether visitors to the dumps are Croydon residents and therefore entitled to use the service. Closing off this “free” service to Surrey residents, paid for by Croydon Council Tax-payers, might help to deter many of them using Croydon dumps as a cheap option.
But earlier this month, Croydon’s Labour-run council recommended Veolia to take on the lucrative contracts for domestic rubbish collection and waste management for all four boroughs in the South London Waste Partnership – including Kingston, Merton and Sutton – in a £38-million publicly financed deal lasting 24 years.
Judging by recent experience, any such contracts probably will not require Veolia staff to ensure that council dumps are only being used by residents of that borough.
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