CUT-BACKS need to be made to Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in Hampshire after the government announced “severe” reductions in funding for local councils last month, Hampshire County Council has said.

The council announced this week that it will consult with residents about the runnings of its HWRCs.

More than £100 million is spent on dealing with waste in the county each year, and the council said it can no longer provide the current level of service.

Plans could include charging for non-domestic waste and reducing opening hours.

The council hopes to hear from as many people as possible about their views on the different proposals, and all responses will be analysed and presented to Cllr Seán Woodward, executive member for economy, transport and environment, to make a decision on any changes later in the year.

Cllr Woodward said: “Ongoing reductions in government funding mean we must continually look very carefully at where we focus our resources to make sure we are using the funding we have wisely.

“However, the scale of funding reductions for councils, particularly in the South of England, announced by the government in December were much more severe than we had expected, and we are now reviewing our savings plans.

“We have a large number of HWRCs in Hampshire compared with other areas. They are open seven days a week, only closing on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, and it is clear we are no longer in a financial position to be able to provide this level of service.

“We have been working on a number of scenarios on which to base a public consultation, asking residents how they think savings could best be made.

We will need to keep all of our options open, including the possibility of charging for non-domestic waste, reducing opening hours and the pattern of sites across the county.

“We want to hear what the priorities are for Hampshire’s residents before any decisions are made, and we will be analysing details of how, when and which sites are used.

“In our consultation in the summer, residents were clear how much they value this service but also agreed on the importance of producing less waste in the first place.

“With the county and district councils in Hampshire spending more than £100 million dealing with waste each year in Hampshire, reducing overall waste volumes is very important.

“Once we have looked at all the evidence and taken people’s views into consideration, we will finalise proposals on how the savings can be made.

“It’s important that we listen to what Hampshire’s residents are telling us, consider the facts, and are not misled by any scaremongering about fly-tipping or extensive site closures.”

He said the whole process will take some months, adding: “We want to give people time to let us know what they think, and we then need to analyse all the information very carefully.

“We must live within our means, and, at this point nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out.”

Dates for the consultation on potential changes will be confirmed shortly.