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Stephen CookseyOn 30th October, Surrey County Council produced its latest attempt to close the Dorking Tip, in the form of a 'consultation' ostensibly constructed to seek the views of residents on the future availability of Community Recycling Centres in Surrey. However. the options given for residents to choose from are all predicated on the closure of the Dorking Tip along with three other smaller facilities, including the Tip at Cranleigh.

Residents are not asked whether they support the closure of the Tip, but only which of three options they would prefer after it is closed. That cannot in any way, be regarded as a consultation on the preferences of residents, since the one option that is missing, is the one that time and again residents have indicated to be the one that they want - to keep the Tip open and operating.

That, of course, is the policy of Mole Valley District Council, as agreed at its meeting on 11th July 2017. Residents appreciated the unanimity of support across the Council for retaining the facility when it was last proposed for closure. It was that support, alongside massive opposition from residents in Dorking and the surrounding area, which persuaded the County to retain the Tip, albeit for a more limited opening period.

As we predicted, limiting the hours of opening has led to huge inconvenience for local residents often with long queues and overcrowding when the tip is open, and opening times that make it difficult for many people to make use of the facility at all. However the queues and overcrowding stand testament to the value that residents place on its local availability.

We predicted an increase in fly-tipping and how right we were - over 400 incidents reported on Council land alone in the past year - all falling for Mole Valley to clear up at the expense of Mole Valley Council Tax payers. Alongside this, landowners, particularly those safeguarding public facilities such as the National Trust and the Surrey Wildlife Trust, have had similar experiences of increased fly-tipping at a significant cost to their organisations and ultimately their members.

The third consequence was equally predictable - a reduction in recycling rates. Mole Valley no longer tops the list in Surrey as having the highest recycling rates, as it did consistently a few years ago, and a steady decline appears to have set in.

If all these results are the consequence of limited opening, how much worse will the situation become for our residents if there is complete closure - there is no question in my mind that it will be very much worse with greatly added inconvenience, much more fly tipping and a continued decline in recycling.

What are the reasons for the proposed closure - Dorking we are told is one of the 'smaller less well used sites' - however, it may not have the volume of use that larger sites such a Leatherhead have, but it is only open for three days a week, and is limited in what it is allowed to accept compared to larger sites, but when it is open it is used very extensively.

Underlying all of these cuts is the failure of the County Council to negotiate a sustainable funding agreement with the government, and the unwillingness of the government to provide a funding regime that would safeguard essential services - and that is the reason for the fifth of our proposals - to ask our MP's to support the establishment of a sustainable financial system for all of our local authorities

The current situation is clear - if there is any possibility of retaining the Ranmore Road Tip in Dorking, we must fight even harder for it than we did 18 months ago and this Council must play a leading part in that battle. Residents are responding with a clear view that none of the proposed options are acceptable. There is a petition against closure already signed by over 800 local residents with the number growing every day; and many organisations with the interests of Dorking at heart are campaigning hard.

This motion asks the Council to respond to the 'consultation' by continuing its policy of opposing closure, in the strongest possible terms and to discuss with the County Council in positive terms how it might help to maintain the facility for local residents in order to keep it open.

Don't ever underestimate how strongly local residents feel about this service, and how much reliance they place on this authority to play its part in the campaign to retain it. Mole Valley District Council, as an influential representative institution, must state categorically that closure is not acceptable and work for a solution that retains this important facility for the community and the residents who elected us.