Up to two thirds of Norfolk’s recycling centres could shut if plans to develop a smaller network of modern “super” sites are given the go-ahead.
The idea has been unveiled in papers published this afternoon which also suggest the standard of the county’s road maintenance could be revised or even reduced in a bid to save money.
One of Norfolk’s current 20 recycling centres, at Docking, could shut as early as next year if proposals to be presented to the county council’s environment, development and transport committee next Friday, September 18, are approved.
Three other sites, at Ashill, Heacham and Morningthorpe, could see their operating days reduced from seven to four.
And the authority is also proposing to cut summer and bank holiday operating times at all but one of the county’s sites by an hour.
But the more radical long-term proposal is to reduce the current recycling centre network to as few as seven sites across Norfolk, which would offer a wider range of services.
Officials say the scheme could cost up to £12 million to implement but could save as much as £1.4 million in operating costs.
Community leaders in Docking have pledged to resist the closure plans, which they fear could lead to more fly-tipping in their area.
But committee chairman Toby Coke said: “This package of measures is designed to affect far fewer residents than the previous proposals, and includes a brand new service offering small businesses an affordable way to recycle their waste.
“I realise that people who use Docking recycling centre will be disappointed at the proposal to close their site, but it is far and away the smallest and most under-used in the county.
“We simply cannot afford to keep it open, especially when there is good access to Wells, Heacham and King’s Lynn recycling centres which also cover the Docking area.
“Even if we agree to make these changes, we still need to consider what type of recycling network we run in the future.
“The proposals for fewer, larger, modern sites are worthy of serious and dispassionate consideration, particularly if such a system can improve our recycling performance and deliver big savings for council tax payers.”
In a separate report, councillors will be asked to look at whether current standards for work including road gritting, road inspections, grass cutting, repairs and bridge maintenance should be revised or reduced.
Officials say £980,000 could be saved in that area through measures, which could also include giving communities the chance to buy their own salt for gritting purposes.
The committee will also be asked to look at plans to transfer £3 million of road spending to the council’s capital budget from its revenue budget.
Mr Coke said: “The council as a whole is facing very tough choices, and if we are to protect vital services to our most vulnerable residents, we’ve got to find ways of reducing pressure on our day to day spend.
“Keeping our roads maintained to a safe standard is important to everyone, but it may be possible to make significant savings by changing maintenance regimes.
“We can also take £3m out of the revenue budget by funding more road maintenance from our capital pot – which is mostly made up from Government grant.
“This will mean fewer major resurfacing and structural schemes, but for most road users the priority is a reliable response to potholes and other urgent problems, and this will continue.”