Council loses £300K as 'superdump' plan is scrapped

Council loses £300K as 'superdump' plan is scrapped

Serena Rees is pleased Ardley Fields recycling centre is staying open

Tim Emptage has criticised the £300,000 that had been spent on the Kidlington project

First published in Countywide Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

PLANS for a £3m “superdump” are on the scrapheap, having cost hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Oxfordshire County Council has abandoned plans for the large-scale recycling site on farmland near Oxford Spires Business Park because of land ownership issues.

The council had hoped to be able to divert waste to the new Kidlington site and close household recycling centres in Stanford-in-the-Vale and Ardley Fields to save £750,000-a-year.

But the council has not been able to get clearance to use a strip of access land close to the proposed site, on greenbelt farmland between the business park and Langford Meadows wildlife site, so the flagship project has been scrapped.

Now county chiefs have entered into negotiations with Oxford City Council to try to find an alternative site.

Despite high recycling rates in Oxfordshire, 62 per cent for April to October last year, councils are under pressure to recycle more to avoid hefty landfill taxes.

A county council spokesman confirmed £300,000 had been spent on the doomed Kidlington project.

Cabinet member for growth and infrastructure Hilary Hibbert-Biles said it was “disappointing” to have to scrap the scheme.

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She said: “Given that Kidlington is now not moving forward, we’re working closely with the city council to find an alternative site. We’re also spending about £100,000 on Redbridge to improve it for the short and medium term.

“We will also be piloting a re-use scheme at some of our recycling centres and the results of that pilot will be looked at in the autumn as part of a review of our waste management strategy.”

Re-use schemes see councils sell items residents take to take to tips, with money raised reinvested in the waste service.

The failure of the Kidlington scheme means Ardley Fields and Stanton-in-the-Vale will remain open for the foreseeable future.

The recycling centres had been due to close in September 2013 and December 2014 respectively.

The news has been welcomed by Fewcott resident and mum-of-two Serena Rees, 53, who uses Ardley Fields.

She said: “I’m very pleased it’s not going to close down. I just think we need to have somewhere within easy reach of people’s homes.

“If they did away with it there would be more fly-tipping.”

Kidlington councillors Doug Williamson and Tim Emptage said hundreds of thousands of pounds had been wasted in survey and planning application fees at a time of deep budget cuts.

Mr Williamson said: “The county council have increased day centre charges and transport charges for vulnerable elderly people, they have cut youth services and library services, cutting adult social care in the latest budget and yet found over £300,000 to waste on this project.”

Mr Emptage added: “We understand that the problem relates to the ownership of a small piece of land which is essential to gain access to the site. Surely the county council should have resolved this issue before spending so much money and time on this project?”

The council confirmed the only reason for the abandonment of the scheme was the fact there was a “ransom strip” of land needed by the council.

But the council would not confirm whether the issue was over finding the owner or failed negotiations with them. County council spokesman Owen Morton would also not confirm the exact figure spent by the council on the process, but said it was correct to say it was in the region of £300,000.

He said: “It costs significant sums of money to progress any major project through the various planning stages, and with any scheme there will always be the potential for problems to emerge, preventing its delivery – even, as in this case, at a stage when planning permission has been secured.

“No one wants to see public money spent on an unrealised project, but neither can any council plan for the future of important public services without investing in the proper development of those plans.”

 

RECYCLING FIGURES APRIL TO OCTOBER 2012
 

  • Cherwell: 59 per cent
  • Oxford: 46 per cent
  • South Oxfordshire: 68 per cent (number one in the UK)
  • Vale of White Horse: 67 per cent (number two in the UK)
  • West Oxfordshire: 63 per cent
  • Oxfordshire average: 62 per cent (figure expected to go down by the end of 2012/13 when poor garden waste recycling figures from the winter months are factored in)

    UK average: 43 per cent
     

Comments (15)

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9:21am Tue 26 Feb 13

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

What EXACTLY did they spend £300,000 on, that's what should be included in this story.
What EXACTLY did they spend £300,000 on, that's what should be included in this story. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 2

9:43am Tue 26 Feb 13

disgruntled2 says...

Is it not Stanford-in-the-Vale
? The article above says Stanton. I just thought I'd check in case the council thinks I've been fly-tipping near Stanford...
Is it not Stanford-in-the-Vale ? The article above says Stanton. I just thought I'd check in case the council thinks I've been fly-tipping near Stanford... disgruntled2
  • Score: 0

9:51am Tue 26 Feb 13

Red Robbo 2 says...

At a time when council jobs and services are at risk in an attempt to balance the budget, may I ask who will be sacked for this?

Until councillors and staff are made personally liable for such catastrophic mistakes with our money, it will continue. Oxfordshire CC is a prime example of the "Peter Principle" - where everyone rises to their own level of incompetence. (And believe me, there is a lot of that! Young talented recruits to OCC last about two years before getting out or being pushed out by people who feel threatened.)

I also agree with Sandy Wimpole-Smythe - not only should the press be reporting this, they should be finding out who was responsible and naming the councillors and Oxfordshire staff involved.

But modern journalists are weak-willed and don't know how to ask difficult questions; they simply print what is given to them.
At a time when council jobs and services are at risk in an attempt to balance the budget, may I ask who will be sacked for this? Until councillors and staff are made personally liable for such catastrophic mistakes with our money, it will continue. Oxfordshire CC is a prime example of the "Peter Principle" - where everyone rises to their own level of incompetence. (And believe me, there is a lot of that! Young talented recruits to OCC last about two years before getting out or being pushed out by people who feel threatened.) I also agree with Sandy Wimpole-Smythe - not only should the press be reporting this, they should be finding out who was responsible and naming the councillors and Oxfordshire staff involved. But modern journalists are weak-willed and don't know how to ask difficult questions; they simply print what is given to them. Red Robbo 2
  • Score: 3

9:51am Tue 26 Feb 13

norton manor says...

what would have been the difference if this money had been spent on elderly care, not just fritted away by tory councillors who think they know best??
what would have been the difference if this money had been spent on elderly care, not just fritted away by tory councillors who think they know best?? norton manor
  • Score: 2

10:43am Tue 26 Feb 13

Cllr Alaric Rose says...

I would have thought one of the first tasks in this project should have been to ascertain who owned the land required for the HWRC. I think the whole idea of reducing the number of HWRCs is counter productive. We need to have a network of sites throughout Oxfordshire - the cost of a 40+ mile round trip would be prohibitive to most Oxfordshire residents. As a result they would be more likely to dump it somewhere, or put in their waste, resulting in an increase in flytipping and landfill volume, and a reduction in recycling rates, all of which would increase the burden on the local authorities and the council tax payer.
I would have thought one of the first tasks in this project should have been to ascertain who owned the land required for the HWRC. I think the whole idea of reducing the number of HWRCs is counter productive. We need to have a network of sites throughout Oxfordshire - the cost of a 40+ mile round trip would be prohibitive to most Oxfordshire residents. As a result they would be more likely to dump it somewhere, or put in their waste, resulting in an increase in flytipping and landfill volume, and a reduction in recycling rates, all of which would increase the burden on the local authorities and the council tax payer. Cllr Alaric Rose
  • Score: 1

11:09am Tue 26 Feb 13

Inkpot says...

I doubt if the TRUE recycling rates are anywhere near those quoted, since the companies who actually process the waste find a large part is not usable due to contamination etc, and it then ends up in landfill !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I doubt if the TRUE recycling rates are anywhere near those quoted, since the companies who actually process the waste find a large part is not usable due to contamination etc, and it then ends up in landfill !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Inkpot
  • Score: 0

12:21pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Tim Emptage says...

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe wrote:
What EXACTLY did they spend £300,000 on, that's what should be included in this story.
The money was spent of survey fees, planning application fees, habitat fees etc. The point is, they have done their homework and not committed to all this until they knew they knew they would be able to access the land
[quote][p][bold]Sandy Wimpole-Smythe[/bold] wrote: What EXACTLY did they spend £300,000 on, that's what should be included in this story.[/p][/quote]The money was spent of survey fees, planning application fees, habitat fees etc. The point is, they have done their homework and not committed to all this until they knew they knew they would be able to access the land Tim Emptage
  • Score: -1

12:59pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

Tim Emptage wrote:
Sandy Wimpole-Smythe wrote:
What EXACTLY did they spend £300,000 on, that's what should be included in this story.
The money was spent of survey fees, planning application fees, habitat fees etc. The point is, they have done their homework and not committed to all this until they knew they knew they would be able to access the land
Clearly they didn't do their homework or they would have found out long before spending £300,000 that the access would be an issue. Surely the first survey on day one would have highlighted an issue with access if the council knew that they didn't own that piece of land?

I know what they have spent some of the money on with survey fees, planning application fees, habitat fees but it is the etc etc that I want to know about.
[quote][p][bold]Tim Emptage[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sandy Wimpole-Smythe[/bold] wrote: What EXACTLY did they spend £300,000 on, that's what should be included in this story.[/p][/quote]The money was spent of survey fees, planning application fees, habitat fees etc. The point is, they have done their homework and not committed to all this until they knew they knew they would be able to access the land[/p][/quote]Clearly they didn't do their homework or they would have found out long before spending £300,000 that the access would be an issue. Surely the first survey on day one would have highlighted an issue with access if the council knew that they didn't own that piece of land? I know what they have spent some of the money on with survey fees, planning application fees, habitat fees but it is the etc etc that I want to know about. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 2

1:06pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Tim Emptage says...

That is is all the information I have on what the money was spent on. OCC should provide a more comprehensive breakdown. I also know that £300k is not the full amount as this does not include the cost of officer time which, on a project of this size, would have been substantial.
That is is all the information I have on what the money was spent on. OCC should provide a more comprehensive breakdown. I also know that £300k is not the full amount as this does not include the cost of officer time which, on a project of this size, would have been substantial. Tim Emptage
  • Score: 1

1:18pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

Tim Emptage wrote:
That is is all the information I have on what the money was spent on. OCC should provide a more comprehensive breakdown. I also know that £300k is not the full amount as this does not include the cost of officer time which, on a project of this size, would have been substantial.
Perhaps then a Freedom of Information Request may be in order.
[quote][p][bold]Tim Emptage[/bold] wrote: That is is all the information I have on what the money was spent on. OCC should provide a more comprehensive breakdown. I also know that £300k is not the full amount as this does not include the cost of officer time which, on a project of this size, would have been substantial.[/p][/quote]Perhaps then a Freedom of Information Request may be in order. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 1

1:48pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Severian says...

Irrespective of who wasted £300,000 of our money, I still don't understand how closing the Ardley tip was going to INCREASE recycling?

Many residents of Bicester and the surrounding villages would probably end up throwing stuff into their green bins that might otherwise have been taken to the tip.

I regularly take stuff up there, and religiously sort it into each of the separate skips. But if I had to face a 20 mile or more round-trip I probably wouldn't bother, and would just break stuff down and put it in the non-recycling bin.

Thank God that Ardley is staying.
Irrespective of who wasted £300,000 of our money, I still don't understand how closing the Ardley tip was going to INCREASE recycling? Many residents of Bicester and the surrounding villages would probably end up throwing stuff into their green bins that might otherwise have been taken to the tip. I regularly take stuff up there, and religiously sort it into each of the separate skips. But if I had to face a 20 mile or more round-trip I probably wouldn't bother, and would just break stuff down and put it in the non-recycling bin. Thank God that Ardley is staying. Severian
  • Score: 1

2:49pm Tue 26 Feb 13

oxinkytext says...

Yes, "disgruntled2" there is a typo. They mean StanFORD-in-the Vale and not StanTON.

Typically, it seems OCC left consideration of one of the most important issues for planning a dump (access and land ownership) to last. I shudder to think how much money was wasted on this if officer time is also included.
Yes, "disgruntled2" there is a typo. They mean StanFORD-in-the Vale and not StanTON. Typically, it seems OCC left consideration of one of the most important issues for planning a dump (access and land ownership) to last. I shudder to think how much money was wasted on this if officer time is also included. oxinkytext
  • Score: 0

3:44pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Abingdon Neil says...

@norton manor This amount of money is the equivalent of most of the 'saving' the County Council is about to make from hiking the charges for elderly people attending Day Centres.
@norton manor This amount of money is the equivalent of most of the 'saving' the County Council is about to make from hiking the charges for elderly people attending Day Centres. Abingdon Neil
  • Score: 0

5:18pm Tue 26 Feb 13

moonlight shadow says...

what an incompitant bunch of fools these people are. £300,000 lining the pockets of companies and individuals and nothing to show for it.But wait. Could it be, I ask myself, that the £300,00 went largly to friends and aquaintnces of said council officials? Surely not. We all know how honest and upright British polititians are.
Either way heads should roll.
what an incompitant bunch of fools these people are. £300,000 lining the pockets of companies and individuals and nothing to show for it.But wait. Could it be, I ask myself, that the £300,00 went largly to friends and aquaintnces of said council officials? Surely not. We all know how honest and upright British polititians are. Either way heads should roll. moonlight shadow
  • Score: 2

10:35am Wed 27 Feb 13

yentiw says...

Oxfordshire County Council can be described in one word: inept.
Or perhaps two words?
Put 'totally' in front of that word.

Clueless bunch who understand only money and waste (how to) in reverse order.
Oxfordshire County Council can be described in one word: inept. Or perhaps two words? Put 'totally' in front of that word. Clueless bunch who understand only money and waste (how to) in reverse order. yentiw
  • Score: 0

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