Agenda and minutes

Special Meeting, Strong Communities Select Committee - Monday, 28th September, 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Remote Meeting. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 

Note: Click here to watch livestreamed meeting 


No. Item


Declarations of Interest.


Public Open Forum.

To share your feedback about the Future Provision of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) report or the Garden Waste Service:


·         You can:

o   upload a written response (max 500 words), or

o   record a video  or audio clip of you sharing your views (maximum of 4 minutes).


You can submit your representations to us online at the following link:,LANG:AF982C24C2572B3224E054315401AAED8CC0A7A0,EN&P_LANG=en

If submissions exceeds one hour in total, representations will be shared by theme (not played in total) but all submissions will be made available to the committee.


The deadline for public submissions is Wednesday 23rd September at 5pm. Full details on the public speaking process are available on page 4 of the agenda pack.



Following the video presentation of responses from Usk residents, Usk Town Council member Alison Ivin delivered a response to the report’s recommendation to close Usk’s HWRC as follows:

“There is a lot to absorb in the report. Due to the time limit, I will focus on a few key points. First, the cost saving in closing Usk is £40k – we don’t accept that as a reason for closure. Usk and its surroundings have close to 19,000 dwellings; at an average council tax of £2000 for a three bedroom property, then that figure is paid for by council tax payments on just 20 dwellings. The cost of essential works is £30k; again, that can be carried by 15 dwellings.

One point that has been made is that the performance of Usk and Mitchel Troy is dragging down the recycling proportions, and therefore affecting performance against Welsh Assembly targets. That’s not the case this year, as the pandemic has actually improved recycling rates. 2021 is quoted as achieving the highest recycling rate in Monmouthshire, of 74% – therefore, if Usk were left open and given the opportunity to be supported as other centres have (with education, booking systems, etc.), we do have the time to make an improvement. The procurement process is due to end in September 2021; it doesn’t need to be delayed as procurement can be requested with two alternate scenarios. We don’t need to make the decision to close Usk now.

There are some cost figures in the report, in terms of comparison with Mitchel Troy and Usk, that I cannot follow but, in any event, these are historic figures. We are now in a new time that we never expected to be in, with the pandemic, that has brought about changes that not only affect recycling figures for the county but also for Usk. We want the opportunity in Usk to show the benefit to recycling figures made from those behavioural changes that have been imposed and consolidated within pandemic time.

Work will be needed, it is said, to improve Usk, at a cost of around £30k, but large amounts have already been spent on works over the last few years to safeguard the future of the facility – we don’t want that money thrown away. It was an investment; there are always investments to be made to maintain a service. To contrast with this, we are quoted over £1.5m to upgrade Mitchel Troy. One comment has been made that Usk can’t reopen because of social distancing; there are two operatives on site. We’ve been told it isn’t suitable for disabled people, but those operatives could help people. All of that can be managed with social distancing in the same way that we’re managing walking down streets. There is a theme that we object to, that Usk is the poorest performing HWRC in the county, and that Usk will not improve. We challenge this.

One of the figures on Table 1, page 4, shows Usk performing at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Pre-decision Scrutiny of the Future Provision of Household Waste Recycling centres (including Usk). pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Additional documents:


Officer Carl Touhig presented the report.


Do the savings on staff, reduced hours and day closures include Usk?

The day closures and savings through reduced hours are separate from Usk – it hasn’t been included in those figures. The closure of Usk is a £40k saving in its own right; the £240k saving for the day closures and additional hours is set across the other three sites.

Is the £40k reduction just for this financial year, or every year?

It is an in-year saving for this year. The site is currently open 5 days a week (50 hours per week), with 2 staff on site. This is where the saving comes from – roughly £20k per member of staff. With the current closure due to the pandemic, those staff are working at some of the bigger sites to help manage the Covid response. Viridor has agreed to give us the £40k this year, provided the site is closed, because they would then go in and clear the skips, take away the office facility, etc. The savings from our perspective are just on staff this year; we don’t know what the savings would be next year but I would assume that without 2 staff on site for 50 hours, we would definitely save £40k next year. Not moving skips from Usk to Llanfoist will save more money again. I don’t know what the total amount saved would be, but I would expect it to be around £60k next year if Usk is closed.

What is the answer to concerns that closing the site would increase the traffic and amount of travelling across Monmouthshire, especially in light of the council’s Green Futures aim?

The distance travelled for everyone can be reduced by using the kerbside collections. In response to the argument of air pollution and carbon, the kerbside recycling is the best way forward. This stops pollution, and anyone needing to travel anywhere. Usk already has a problem with air pollution in the town centre – we therefore need to ask if it is right that, pre-Covid, we were bringing 170+ cars and large lorries through Usk each day to service the site, thus adding to the problem.

Has a ‘halfway’ solution been considered e.g. having a site elsewhere, perhaps in the County Council car park, which could use CCTV and therefore be unmanned?

We did look at moving the Usk facility somewhere else in Usk, but people don’t want waste sites next to them. I am not convinced that we would get planning permission for a waste facility on the Rhadyr site or the riverside site, given the flood risk. Additional sites have not been popular in Usk, such as the additional AD plant and Biomass plant, among others, so another waste facility is unlikely to get planning permission, and permitting has to be acquired on top of that. National Resources Wales would certainly look at the flood risk for opening another facility anywhere in Usk. Today, if we  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Pre-decision Scrutiny of the Garden Waste Service. pdf icon PDF 240 KB

Additional documents:


Following the video presentation of responses from Monmouthshire residents, Officer Laura Carter delivered the report.


An increase of £18 to £35 is 94%, and therefore very excessive. What sort of drop-off is expected for this service, given such a large increase? Are we trying deliberately to cut off this service?

We have highlighted that there is a funding gap, and have worked out what we would need to charge in order to close it. The recommendation for today is to consider and approve the charge levied. From today, we hope that the idea of a charge will be agreed, to take to Cabinet subsequently. The report does not propose that the full cost be charged – we are asking Select today to make a recommendation on the cost for us.

The report states that many authorities use the recycling service, and keep it free, to keep their recycling targets high. How will such a steep increase help us in this endeavour?

Yes, councils do subsidise garden waste collections. Some are in the situation where they would fail to meet their targets without doing so; Monmouthshire isn’t quite in that position, though we were very close to hitting the 65% last year. It is a concern. 8% of our garden waste is collected kerbside; we believe that even if there were a drop-off, most of the garden waste would be presented at our HWRCs – so it would still be in our recycling rates, just through a different means.

Regarding manual labour and crews, have we not consulted the unions?

Our Operations Manager is in close contact with the unions, and has discussed matters with them.

Why are these changes happening now? There have been many phases of changes with bags – why weren’t wheelie bins introduced earlier, especially given their prior use in other authorities?

We have talked for some time about moving over to wheelie bins from a manual handling perspective. A recent HR report cited muscular-skeletal injuries as the highest form of sickness for crews. We need to procure vehicles: the 2012 vehicles that we have should have already been replaced, and we are encountering a lot of problems with them. Hiring vehicles is very expensive, so is not an option. Waste is facing massive in-year budget pressures, so we were asked to look at possible ways to alleviate them.

The report mentions an Abergavenny company taking the garden waste – do they pay for that, or do we pass it on for free?

Abergavenny Garden Waste Compost has the contract to compost Monmouthshire’s garden waste, for which we pay them, x amount per tonne. There is no income back.

The report mentions possible redundancies/redeployment – where would those workers be redeployed? Have those discussions taken place?

Fortnightly wheelie bin collections would mean that one crew that currently collects garden waste would be redeployed. Next year, we are introducing reusable red and purple bags that need additional crew members. Our loaders are employed as loaders, whether they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.