Somerley tip could close as Hampshire embarks on savings plan

The Somerley Household Waste Recycling Centre could close as Hampshire County Council looks at saving £132million.

A cost review will look at how many tip sites it operates in the future, and include Somerley where an estimated 20,000 Dorset residents live within five miles – many using its facilities.

Dorset residents also use the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council sites at Millhams, Christchurch and Nuffield in Poole.

In each case Dorset Council currently pays the neighbouring councils a fee, collectively adding up to around half a million pounds each year.

Dorset councillor David Tooke told a budget scrutiny meeting that, despite the cost, it might be worthwhile for Dorset Council to pay Hampshire Council more to keep the Somerley household recycling centre open, rather than see it shut.

He said if that happened Dorset residents would then have to make hour-long round trips, to Wimborne or Blandford, from the Alderholt and Verwood areas.

Dorset Council leader Spencer Flower said with the Somerley site well use by Dorset residents he would be talking to Hampshire about any proposals for changes as part of the consultation process.

In 2022/23 Dorset Council paid £151,000 for Dorset residents to use the Somerley site, surveys suggesting that DC residents make up more than half the visitors.

In the same financial year Dorset paid BCP Council £320,000 for the use of Household Recycling Centres in its area.

Dorset Council say that if it did not make the payments to BCP and Hampshire it would still have to dispose of Dorset residents’ waste, which would still have a cost.

For many the nearest Dorset site is at Wimborne, a facility considered inadequate for the immediate local area.

In 2019 estimates put the cost of a new site for Wimborne at between £3 and £5million which is not in any current budget.

Portfolio Holder for waste, Cllr Laura Beddow, said that although she would like to see improvements to HRCs in east Dorset and Dorchester each was unlikely to be improved in the near future with ‘challenges’ for Dorset Council around finance, planning and suitable alternative sites.

She said the Dorset waste plan priority remained the Blandford site which will also have a waste transfer function in addition to household recycling.

It is thought that a relatively small number of BCP residents use the Wimborne HRC site, although surveys are being considered to check the assumption.

A similar cross border assumption is made for other Dorset sites, mainly at Shaftesbury and Sherborne, although these sites may also see site surveys taking place to check this in the coming months.

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