Six of Lancashire’s household waste recycling centres will shut for two days a week from the autumn.
The closure days – at facilities in Longridge, Barnoldswick, Burscough, Carnforth, Clitheroe and Haslingden – are yet to be finalised, but weekends and bank holidays will be unaffected.
READ MORE >>> Fears over fly-tipping because of waste centre cutbacks
Opening hours at all 15 centres across the county will also be reduced by three hours per day, with each site operating from 9am to 5pm. Currently, the facilities are open from 8am to 7pm.
The new operating hours and reduced days are due to come into force from 1st October.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet approved the changes as part of a plan to save £734,000 a year from the authority’s budget.
That saving will be reduced by £30,000 after it was decided that a centre in Skelmersdale, which was originally intended to reduce its days of operation, will continue to open seven days a week.
Deputy council leader, Albert Atkinson, told the meeting that the five-day operation of waste centres was now commonplace across local authorities, including the standalone councils in Blackpool and Blackburn-with-Darwen.
A public consultation into the plans attracted more than 1,200 responses, with roughly half of people opposed to both the cut in hours and days. Eighty-three percent of respondents said that having access to the facilities at weekends was important to them.
A suggestion that the centres could remain open later during the summer months was rejected, because of the effect of the irregular shift patterns on staff.
Opposition councillors have previously raised concerns about a potential increase in fly-tipping as a result of the reduced days of operation. But a paper presented to cabinet concluded that there was”no evidence” to support that claim.
“The recycling centres are currently open 11 hours a day, 7 days a week over summer and fly tipping still occurs across the county. This is because most fly tipping is carried out by unscrupulous businesses who do not want to pay for their waste to be disposed of properly,” the report notes.
Members were told that the authority does expect there to be an increase in waste being left at the gates of the recycling centres for a short time after the changes are brought in.
The u-turn over the Skelmersdale site came about as a result of concerns over traffic. It was feared that a more intensive use of the centre over five days would require more regular skip changes – something which causes vehicles to back up onto the road.
The site was also the busiest of those initially proposed to reduce their days of working. West Lancashire remains the only district which has two waste recycling centres in its area.
In a statement after the meeting, deputy leader of the Labour opposition group, John Fillis, said: "It's clearly recognised by the scientific community and supported by local people that we need to be recycling more.
"The Conservatives go against all this and choose to cut the opening hours of Household Waste Recycling Centres across Lancashire. This will without doubt reduce recycling and increase fly tipping, leaving the borough councils to clear it up and local people to pay the price."