RESIDENTS have expressed anger and frustration after they were bypassed by Monmouthshire council in its attempt to close Usk Recycling Centre.

Residents expressed disdain after the council revealed plans to close Usk Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) from March 31 at a meeting last month, saying they have been ignored.

A meeting which took place last week among residents and members of Monmouthshire council and Usk Town Council resulted in a temporary halt to the plans, while “proper engagement” takes place, and residents are determined to use the period to voice their concerns.

More News

NOSTALGIA: The court where Chartists were tried

Tributes to Monmouth boy Samuel Barker who died in bus collision

Monmouthshire man completes 31 half marathons in as many days for homelessness charity

James Harper, who has lived in the town for 20 years and owns his own business in the area, attended the meeting last week and said residents were informed they were not consulted because the council knew the backlash it would receive.

“We were told in no uncertain terms that the reason residents and the town council were not consulted was because the Monmouthshire council knew this proposal would be wholly unpopular,” Mr Harper said.

“Bridge Street, which is the main high street in Usk, is dying quite rapidly at the moment, and the one saving grace we’ve got is that people who come here and use the tip often park their car and have a walk into the town to do some shopping or buy food. If the recycling centre wasn’t here I really fear people wouldn’t travel to Usk.”

The county council is bidding to increase its recycling rate to avoid the threat of Welsh Government fines, with the Usk HWRC having the lowest recycling rate of any centre in Wales, at 47.92 per cent.

Mr Harper also raised concerns regarding potential fly-tipping in the area if the town was to lose the service.

“We’ve seen a lot of fly-tipping in Monmouthshire in recent times,” he said. “I worry about fly-tipping as it is, and it will only increase if we get rid of the waste management services.”

Derek Howe, who owns an antiques store on Bridge Street and uses the recycling centre each week, criticized the council for having a defeatist attitude in an era of climate change activism.

“It’s absolute rubbish. We are in an era of real climate problems and to throw the towel in on a really useful service that has been used by residents for over 30 years is foolish,” he said.

“There are also going to be issues for the elderly folk in the town. Usk is home to many elderly people who find the recycling centre convenient and accessible. Does the council expect older people to travel to other towns to use their sites?”

Tony Kear, who has lived in Usk for over 50 years and is chairman of the town’s Usk in Bloom project, praised the council for admitting their initial approach was wrong and for pausing the plans to consult residents.

Mr Kear added: “I really struggle to understand how such a major recommendation that will affect Usk was made without any consulting at all. Simply passing on the report and it’s recommendations and finding out via the Argus isn’t good enough.

“That said, it’s clear there are issues with the way the site is being run by Viridor and abuse by commercial businesses as well as residents not making full use of the kerb-side collection service.

“There needs to be a change in administration on site and education on what the site should be used for as well as ensuring that residents recycle all that they can.

“I just hope that the decision to review the site closure is genuine and is being done with an open mind, looking at the implications for people in Usk rather than just costs and recycling targets.”

Cllr Jane Pratt, Monmouthshire council’s cabinet member for waste and recycling, said it has been “agreed that the decision be held in abeyance to enable proper engagement to take place and for the cabinet to review the outcomes of that process”.

“I understand the passion and frustration of the community, however there is a serious need to look at recycling in the county,” she added.

The county council is planning to introduce black bag sorting areas across its recycling centres to boost recycling, but says this will be “impossible” at Usk due to the size of the site.

The authority is also facing a potential fine of up to £133,500 if it misses a Welsh Government recycling target of 64 per cent this financial year.

Closing the Usk site could bring the council a saving of £40,000 in management fees.