Chesterfield councillor calls Derbyshire council’s waste site camera plans a “Big Brother” scheme
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The £200,000 Derbyshire County Council scheme is part of cost-saving plans following large increases in waste disposal at the county council’s nine waste sites and after a multi-million pound out-of-court settlement payout by the council and Derby City Council following a dispute with a waste management team.
It also coincides with the Conservative-controlled council’s recent announcement that it is facing a predicted overspend on its budget of £46m by next March which has also been met with a range of other tough cost-cutting plans.
Liberal Democrat Chesterfield Borough Councillor, Tom Snowdon, said: “Conservative Derbyshire County Council have decided to introduce new number plate recognition cameras at our waste recycling centres.
“They say this is needed so they can check you are a Derbyshire resident as you drive into a recycling centre. The Conservative-led council obviously believe this is a major problem.”
Cllr Snowdon added: “This at a time when they face a £46m black hole in their finances, and staff are at risk of losing their jobs.”
He also criticised the vehicle Automatic Number Plate Recognition scheme in a statement as a ‘Big Brother Scheme – Watching What You Throw Away’ and as a waste of money on ‘spy cameras’ to observe what people are recycling.
County council cabinet members have approved plans to spend around £200,000 to install an ANPR system at waste sites which will not only identify vehicle interlopers from outside Derbyshire who are not allowed to use the county’s waste sites but will also allow them to be charged for any breaches.
Plans also agreed by the council include a public consultation which was launched in October to consider reducing waste site opening times, possibly charging residents for disposing of tyres or asbestos and introducing possible limits on the free disposal of DIY waste.
Proposals open to discussion in the consultation also include allowing local businesses and sole traders to dispose of commercial waste at some recycling centres for a reasonable charge because currently trade waste is not accepted.
The county council has stated that the planned changes to Derbyshire’s household waste recycling centres have surfaced after a 32 per cent increase in the amount of waste collected at the sites since 2017 and 2018 was recorded which has risen to 85,000 tonnes a year, costing an extra £700,000 to £800,000 in annual disposal and recycling costs.
This increase also coincided with neighbouring councils outside Derbyshire introducing their own measures to restrict people living outside of their area from using their recycling centres, according to the council.
Another proposal to be considered is whether the council should adopt the Government definition on the limited amounts of DIY waste that can be disposed of at recycling centres for free which is not more than four drop-offs over four-weeks for construction waste with limits on the quantities.
Derbyshire County Council is also asking residents what support they might need to access a vehicle registration scheme at waste recycling centres to make sure those using the sites are from the county and are entitled to use them.
The county council stated that the vehicle Automatic Number Plate Recognition scheme would be used to stop interlopers from outside Derbyshire using the county’s household waste recycling centres.
But Chesterfield Borough Cllr Snowdon added: “I find it hard to follow their logic – how do they know this is such a big problem when they don’t currently have recognition cameras.
“So what is the real reason for them to want to record your reg number? Could it be that they want to know who you are, so they can see what items you have brought, and charge you for it. Will they be charging for green waste next?”
Cllr Snowdon also questioned county council proposals to reduce the number of recycling days and hours, and to charge some for the disposal of waste at recycling centres.
He said he would prefer to see money spent on potholes and flood defences, however the county council is already targeting road repairs with multi-million pound funding and hi-tech equipment and systems, and it has welcomed support from the Government’s Flood Recovery Framework scheme in its fight against storms and downpours.
County Cllr Carolyn Renwick, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Environment, has stated that to deal with rising costs and increasing demands on council budgets the introduction of number plate recognition technology will help keep access to Derbyshire waste sites limited to county-based residents only which will reduce the costs to Derbyshire council tax-payers and better fund the service.
A Derbyshire County Council spokesperson said: “We currently provide household waste recycling centres for Derbyshire residents only. Introducing number plate recognition technology will help to identify anyone from outside the county trying to use the sites – which in future years will help to reduce the cost to Derbyshire council tax-payers which help to fund the service.
“It follows a 32% increase in the amount of waste collected at the sites since 2018 which has risen to 85,000 tonnes a year, costing an extra £700,000 to £800,000 in annual recycling and disposal costs.
“This increase coincided with neighbouring councils outside Derbyshire introducing measures to restrict people living outside of their area from using their recycling centres.
“The cost of putting the system in place is expected to be recovered during the first 12 months from savings made due to the reduction in the amount of waste being brought to our sites from outside Derbyshire.
“We continue to invest in maintaining Derbyshire’s roads. We fixed 100,000 potholes last year and have fixed a further 80,688 to date this year.”
Derbyshire County Council runs nine recycling centres across the county for Derbyshire residents and these sites accept household waste only and currently open seven-days-a-week from 8.30am to 6pm, except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
These include Chesterfield, Bolsover, Loscoe, Northwood at Darley Dale, Waterswallows near Buxton, Ilkeston, Glossop, Ashbourne, and Bretby.
The Conservative-led county council previously announced in July that it had agreed to pay out a £56.93m share of a total £93.5m pay out with Derby City Council to Resource Recovery Solutions’ waste management team’s administrators to resolve a dispute after the local authorities had terminated a contract with the waste management team to manage a waste facility in Sinfin, Derby.