Mid Ulster District Council to discuss closure of recycling centres

Five waste recycling centres have been earmarked for closure in Mid Ulster District Council.
  • by Local Democracy Reporter Adam Morton

Mid Ulster District Council's environment committee has backed calls for a working group to be established to discuss the closure of five waste recycling centres in the district.

Any hopes the decision to undertake this rationalisation of waste recycling centres will be reversed, however, seem slim with the local authority's deputy chief executive Anne-Marie Campbell telling members the decision has "been made and we now have to look at implementing this going forward".

The programme of planned closures of recycling centres in Castledawson, Coalisland, Draperstown, Fivemiletown and Moneymore was part of a Sinn Féin proposal, supported by the SDLP, to increase the district's domestic and non-domestic rates by 7.3 per cent.

Speaking at a committee meeting on Tuesday 14 February, Carntogher councillor Brian McGuigan said he was concerned that the closures could lead to an escalation of fly-tipping in the district.

"We have been pretty good in terms of fly-tipping and that could become an issue if people say, 'I am not going to a recycling centre so far away' and then the fly-tipping carry on starts," he said.

"I do have concerns in relation to the whole thing. We have not had figures in terms of the cost saving involved in closing these centres so I am proposing we set up a working group to work through these issues."

The proposal was seconded by Cllr McGuigan's Sinn Fein party colleague, Councillor Ian Milne, before DUP Councillor Clement Cuthbertson said all parties were aware "what they were signing up to" when the 7.3 per cent rates proposal was put to a vote.

Sinn Féin councillor John McNamee said he was in support of the proposal to form a behind closed doors group to discuss the recycling centre issue further.

"We have to look at it in the round and we need to look at the potential for waste to be lifted in different areas when a facility should go," he said.

UUP Councillor Trevor Wilson asked what confidence could the public hold in Council's depiction of its financial state if money is found to reverse this decision.

"I can fully understand the kick back from the public but we have to accept Sinn Féin and the SDLP voted those through," he said.

"We were told at the rates meeting there was no other money available and that these had to be cut.

"Anne-Marie Campbell said we were down to the bare bones. If we somehow find money now, after claiming we didn't have it, what message does that send the rate payer?"

Cookstown Councillor Trevor Wilson also suggested that if a working group is formed it should also look at the grass cutting in the 30mph zones and the introduction of paid for car parking in Cookstown.

SDLP Councillor Martin Kearney said he was of the opinion "further discussion would be useful" while Sinn Féin councillor, Niall McAleer claimed members had not been given "a full paper" on the rationalisation of recycling centres.

Claiming that "it is not that we ever said we were happy with this", SDLP councillor Sharon McAleer told the chamber she thought "we would have further discussions on these closures at future committee meetings".

UUP Councillor Mark Glasgow claimed council officers had been "very open" about the proposals and told the chamber he was "quite concerned" some councillors are suggesting they were "not privy to those details".

DUP Councillor Wesley Brown refuted Cllr McGuigan's claim he was not aware of the figures telling the chamber that "everyone knew last Monday night what we were voting for" and suggested councillors who voted in favour of the rates rise needed to "suck it up and deal with the consequences".

"At the end of the day if the flack has come from constituents on the ground now, I have three simple words, 'suck it up', you voted for it, this was your decision. It was included within the budgets that you voted in favour of.

"You have to suck it up and live with the consequence of what you decided."

Cllr McGuigan told the chamber he was not in favour of the working group discussing any issue except the recycling centres before Ms Campbell told the committee that decisions made "will have to be implemented".

"The rates were agreed last Monday and agreed on the basis of a number of savings in my department which I will have to implement," she said.

"The opportunity is not on the table to totally review the decisions made, they have been made and we now have to look at this going forward."

Cllr McGuigan's proposal to form a working group to discuss the recycling centre issue was put to a vote with the eight SDLP and Sinn Féin members present voting in favour of it and the five DUP and UUP members present voting against it.

Councillor Wilson's proposal for a working group to discuss not only the recycling centres but also the end of grass verge cutting in 30mph zones and the introduction of paid for parking in Cookstown was then defeated with the eight members of the SDLP and Sinn Féin present voting against it and the five members of the DUP and UUP present voting in support of it.

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