23,000 recycling centre visitor permits a day are now being sent out via Royal Mail to households in the re3 area of Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham. By late June over 182,000 of the free vinyl permits will have been delivered, ready for re3 area residents to use on recycling centre visits.
From 1 July, only re3 area residents will be able to use the recycling centres in Bracknell and Reading. The windscreen permits are being introduced as a quick way to check visitor ID and to help minimise queuing.
The visitor access change has been prompted by West Berkshire Council giving notice that it intends to stop an annual payment of £500,000 for waste delivered to re3 recycling centres by West Berkshire residents. At a time of severe budget cuts but increasing demand for council services, the three re3 Councils feel strongly that it is unfair to ask re3 area council tax payers to pay for waste management services for residents living in other local authorities.
Waste management is an area where savings can be made to help fund essential services elsewhere. The total cost in the first year for implementing the changes to the recycling centres - including staff, site changes and permit distribution - is estimated at £340,000. The full year ongoing savings to re3 residents are estimated at £835,000 as they include savings in the quantity of waste being processed as a result from a drop in visitors from not only West Berkshire, but other neighbouring local authority areas including South Oxfordshire and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
Every household in Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham is being issued with a permit to help ensure fairness and convenience. One permit is being issued per household and as it is made from vinyl, it will not permanently stick to the windscreen and can be removed when not in use. The permit is not linked to an individual car registration, but can be used with different vehicles in the same household.
Permits should not be shared with residents from other council areas as a way to gain access to a re3 recycling centre. If this happens, the resident lending the permit is allowing the other person to dispose of their waste free of charge, but at a cost to re3 area council tax payers.
re3 area residents should display the new permit in their car windscreen to gain access to the recycling centres in Bracknell and Reading. Alternative forms of ID will be accepted, but checking these documents will slow down access so residents are being asked to please use their windscreen permit.
Each permit will be accompanied by a letter giving more information on the recycling centre access changes and will provide the resident with a unique reference number for their permit. This number should be hand-written in the white box on the resident’s permit before displaying it in their windscreen during a recycling centre visit. Residents should also quote this number if they decide to apply for a commercial vehicle permit, which are coming into effect at the re3 recycling centres from early September.
New residents who move into the area, or for anyone who may not have received a permit in the post by the end of June, can apply for one online from their local council website. Residents should allow 10 working days for their application to be processed.
Wokingham Borough Council’s Executive Member for Environment Cllr Angus Ross said: "Over 182,000 permits are being delivered via Royal Mail, and we hope that by the second last week in June, households in the re3 area will have received their permit ready for use from 1st July.
"By not accepting waste from residents from other local authority areas, we can cut costs and make much-needed savings that can be used for other essential council services."
Bracknell Forest's Executive Member for Environment and Chairman of the Joint Waste Disposal Board, Cllr Mrs Dorothy Hayes MBE said: "We are implementing these changes to ensure fairness for re3 area residents both in terms of their access to the two recycling centres in Bracknell and Reading and not paying for the disposal of the waste from other areas via their council tax. We are continually working to provide the most efficient, cost effective waste management service possible for re3 area council tax payers.
"These changes have had to be introduced at very short notice after West Berkshire Council’s decision to end the joint agreement, but we are continuing to spread this message ahead of the changes being made."
Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Liz Terry said: "The re3 partnership is here to provide value for money and efficient waste management services for Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham, and we wanted to ensure that every household in the re3 area received a permit ready for use, and without the inconvenience of having to apply for one.
"The permits, when displayed on car windscreens, are a simple and quick way to check that only re3 area residents are using the re3 recycling centres and that we are not all paying for the processing of waste from elsewhere."
For more information on the re3 recycling centres, please visit the re3 website or check out the FAQs regarding the re3 permit scheme (PDF document).