One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced in Calderdale from the start of lockdown has been to manage much higher and changing demands on waste and recycling services. Fortunately, whilst a small number of individuals have been willing to break the law by fly tipping, most of our residents have understood the problems and worked with us by recycling as much as possible, minimising waste, and recognising that sometimes they need to be patient and store waste safely whilst services are under so much pressure.
As we continue to do all we can to keep the number of cases of the virus as low as possible, these services will continue to be under pressure from increased demand and the need to manage waste differently as social distancing and other hygiene requirements remain.
As a responsible council administration, our first priority has always been and will continue to be to maintain the kerbside waste and recycling service as this benefits everyone, and the volumes of material being collected remain very high and well above normal levels
We’ve taken a prudent and careful approach to reopening other services, being sure that at all times they are safe and sustainable. We restarted the green waste collection as soon as it was safe to do so.
Once the national advice allowed it, we identified and opened the three Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) where social distancing can be managed well on site, where traffic problems created by the unavoidable queues can be managed well, and which between them provide reasonable coverage of the Borough (Halifax, Eastwood and Brighouse). Opening these sites, and operating them in a way that provides the best protection to both users and staff, has been challenging and we have redeployed some additional staff to support this
The other two sites, at Elland and Sowerby Bridge, both present challenges in terms of access, social distancing, or both. Opening them would require additional staff and money at a time when our finances are under huge pressures and we need to make every penny count.
That’s why we feel that at the moment, the next priorities should be to restore some of the other services. We are about to restart the delivery of recycling containers, and will bring back the bulky waste collection as this provides more benefits because it helps those households who are unable to take their excess waste to HWRCs.
Looking forward, the Council’s cabinet will be considering a comprehensive report on the further reopening of many services, including waste and recycling, at the August cabinet meeting. We hope by then that we will also have greater clarity about the overall financial position and that we will know whether the Government are going to honour their promises to stand by Councils like ours who have done everything possible to protect their communities against the virus, or whether we are going to be left with a multi-million pound funding gap.