ALMOST 6,000 people have signed a petition urging civic bosses to grant a stay of execution to a local tip.
Broomsdene Household Waste Recycling Centre – known locally as The Brooms tip – is one of six recycling centres that Durham County Council intends to close as part of cost-cutting measures.
A petition calling for the facility at Stoney Heap, Leadgate, near Consett, to be saved was handed in to county council chairman Dennis Morgan yesterday by local councillors Alan Shield and Watts Stelling.
Because more than 5,000 people signed it, the issue will be discussed at a meeting of the full council on March 21. Coun Stelling, an Independent, said: “People around about here feel very strongly about this, which is why so many have signed the petition.”
Coun Shield added: “If this closure goes ahead then there will be only one facility, at Annfield Plain, for 165,000 people in North Durham, which would be a scandalous state of affairs.”
He wants the council to devise a business plan to keep Broomsdene open, “possibly with shorter opening hours”.
Both councillors fear closure would result in an increase in environmentally damaging and costly fly-tipping.
The petition handed into County Hall yesterday – containing 5,630 signatures – followed a decision by the country council last October to put out to public consultation its plan to close six household waste recycling centres in 2013.
Cabinet member for strategic environment, Coun Bob Young, pointed out that the nearest waste recycling centre to Leadgate was only two miles away at Annfied Plain.
“We understand many people are concerned when faced with the prospect of change, but we have both a duty and an economic need to look at this area,” he said. “In addition, the changes proposed would actually see new services introduced in some areas, like Stanhope and Crook.
“How can it be fair that in some places residents can choose from up to five sites within easy travel time, whilst in others there is little or no provision at all?
“It’s well publicised that we have to make major financial savings. Just as importantly, we must ensure the services we provide serve all our residents.”
The council estimates that closing six of the county’s 15 waste disposal sites could generate savings on the £3.5m annual cost of the existing service. It also wants to introduce a mobile recycling service in Weardale.
The authority says almost 99% of residents live within a 30-minute drive of a council tip, which meets national guidance regarding “good practice”.
It also says 86% of residents can access more than one site within a 20-minute drive and closing the six sites would still give 96% of residents the same travelling statistics.