Kent County Council dumps plans for Kent tip closures

The closure plans provoked protest Photo Simon Finlay

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

Controversial plans to close four of Kent’s tips lie in tatters after county councillors voted to dump the proposals.

Conservative members rejected all closure options after months of public protest and fears of the political price they might pay at the next Kent County Council elections.

It will be seen as a significant victory for the scheme’s opponents who have vowed to remain “vigilant” against similar plans being reintroduced later.

The shutting of four household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) was on the table as cash-strapped KCC attempted to find £1.5m in savings.

Tory group members took the decision at a group meeting last week in a secret ballot in the council chamber at County Hall, Maidstone.

The cabinet member for the environment who was leading the closure plans, Cllr Susan Carey, resigned later that day. She has been unavailable for comment.

Richborough waste centre had been earmarked for closure (image google maps)

Plans to shut four of six Kent tips caused a furious backlash and prompted a planned consultation, due to start in the summer, to be put on hold.

The HWRCs at risk were Faversham, Tovil (Maidstone), Deal, Richborough, Dartford and Swanley.

One Tory member said: “The idea of closing the tips was always absolutely crackers – the public were never going to put up with that.

“Everyone knows that we are in dire financial straits as an authority but closing much appreciated amenities is not an option.

“Ahead of the 2025 election, it was politically suicidal. We know that we’re going to struggle at that election and shutting tips is not a way of shoring up the vote, is it?

“I don’t think Susan was very happy with the result and perhaps she thought she’s taken this as far as she could take it and that’s why she decided to go.”

Councillors from Thanet and Dover protested at the Richborough waste centre site

The vote was 28-21 in favour of rejecting all the closure options formulated by Cllr Carey and her officers.

High profile opponent of the Faversham closure, the KCC Liberal Democrat group leader Antony Hook, said: “It’s great news but I’ll be advising our campaigners to stay vigilant. I’m not sure we can trust them [those in favour of the proposal].

“I can’t believe that they’ve had a sudden Road to Damascus conversion so they might try to get the closures back in some other form.”

Faversham protesters have collected 3,000 signatures of local people opposed to the loss of their tip.

Cllr Barry Lewis

After news emerged on Friday night of Cllr Carey’s decision to step down, Labour’s Barry Lewis said: “It puts into doubt whether these controversial plans to close the household tips will go ahead as there has been a major revolt by Tory backbenchers and opposition members against these ridiculous proposals.”

In an email to KCC members, and seen by Local Democracy Reporting Service, monitoring officer Ben Watts said leader Cllr Roger Gough would assume Cllr Carey’s responsibilities but supported by Cllr Tony Hills, Cllr Carey’s deputy.

It is not known at this stage if Cllr Gough will use her resignation to have another reshuffle of his top table.

A Tory member said: “At the group meeting, Roger looked crestfallen when the result was announced.  He thought it would go through. It was close but really not that close, in the end.”

In early October, Cllr Gough survived a second leadership challenge this year when he defeated Cllr Sarah Hudson by a large margin (44-17).

The member added: “Clearly, if he thought the group was united around him, he clearly didn’t think it through. Tip closures don’t win elections.”

17 Comments

  1. Great news!

    Will they now go two steps further and recycle plastic waste as well as cardboard and metal?
    … and will they allow pedestrians and cyclists to enter the premises? Or will these sites remain off-limits for non-polluters?

    • I didn’t know you needed a car to enter.So,a person,without a vehicle,wanting to take a discarded mattress or t.v. there, would be refused.That is crazy!

      • Quite agree Eric. We’re encouraged to buy, buy, buy but there is no joined up plan for disposing of large items. I am very glad the tips are staying open but it may have made more sense to close some on the grounds that those with access to a vehicle could literally go the extra mile if, IF, there was also free collection for those who cannot transport their junk themselves. Joined up schemes just don’t seem to happen – it’s all so ad hoc.

  2. For once common sense has prevailed and this ridiculous plan from KCC is now dead. Richborough site already accepts plastic for recycling and I do agree a safe way of accommodating people without a car needs to be found.

  3. Well done Barry and all the Dover, Sandwich and Thanet councillors who campaigned against these appalling proposals. You can defeat County Hall if a good battle is fought

  4. Why can’t Amazon pay half the running costs of these facilities?

    After all, they’re responsible for half of the packaging that needs to be recycled. And they’re not exactly renowned for paying their fair share of tax.

    • Amazon’s waste is unbelievable. A friend brought a litre of pond cleaner. It turned up in a box 500mm square and about 10 mtrs of brand paper. Ridiculous company.

    • And if the government’s proposed legislation is enacted, you’d get arrested for holding such a demonstration, because it would undermine “British values”, whatever they are!

      • For the citizens of Britain, these values include a roof over our heads, food, water and warmth, job security, staffed ticket offices, an accessible health service and a decent range of affordable shops, amenities and public services.

        For the government of Britain (or the government in waiting) the main values are staying on the right side of warmongers, mass murderers and practitioners of apartheid.

  5. KCC are adrift,in mess of their own making.This idea may have been stalled but there will be blood.Libraries closed and/hours reduced, more potholes, street lighting switched off,more bus services cut,in other words the usual suspects for the chop. The usual suspects policy will not achieve the savings they need or want.
    This is a small victory but the economic war continues.
    The one party state is coming apart at the seams.

  6. Great news – really pleased – staff at Richborough always helpful and friendly . Personally prefer the appointment / book a slot system

  7. The Tories are full of these ‘great’ ideas-closing down vital public services, stealing homeless people’s tents & making it a criminal offence for anybody to provide them with another tent, putting people in processing centres with nobody getting processed-so it ends up overcramped & a health hazard & human rights disaster, putting people on a floating barge-that holds less often arrive in a day & giving them Legionnaires-while refusing to tell us how much it has cost, sending people to a human rights abusing country at far greater cost then it would be to process them here, giving tax breaks & dodgy deals to their useless friends to botch-while punishing the poorest in society etc. Dump them at the next election.

  8. How much time , admin , travel allowances , VIP meetings did it take , secret ballots for these twerps to arrive back at the start of the circle ?
    Shambles – playing politics .

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