SOLIHULL RUBBISH: Parties lock horns over future of recycling centre
Parties have clashed over the future of Solihull’s rubbish tip, as the council leader ruled out moving the site to a controversial new home.
Suggestions that a parcel of green belt land near Elmdon was among the options being considered caused a series of angry exchanges last autumn.
A row first erupted when the council’s Draft Local Plan had identified the area as “the most suitable option” to rehouse the facility currently based on the Coventry Road.
The Tories had always maintained a number of alternatives were under consideration and had accused political rivals of “scaremongering.”
But the claim was fiercely contested by the Lib Dems, who branded the latest statement a “u-turn” and said there had been genuine concern when the possibility was dropped, without warning, into the document.
Cllr Laura McCarthy (Lib Dem, Elmdon) said: “This was highlighted by a local resident because it was slipped into the Local Plan with no notification to councillors or residents beforehand.
“And we should have been given a heads-up and that was completely out of order.”
The local party welcomed the fact that the option had now been discounted – claiming victory in a “David and Goliath” battle – but said it should never had been included in the plan to begin with.
Cllr Courts has maintained the opposition group had downplayed the fact other solutions would be considered, that elected councillors would have the final say and that there was still “years” to run on the existing lease.
“Officers are duty-bound to investigate options for this as part of the Local Plan process and it had to be raised in that particular context.
“I regard this as the wrong use of land in that location at Damson Parkway and certainly I won’t support it or nor will my group, so I really think this should bring an end to the scaremongering that has been going on.”
The council had been reviewing future options to replace the current HWRC, because of concerns that the operation was reaching the end of its lifespan and it would struggle to meet the needs of the borough’s growing population.
Earlier this year officers indicated a number of solutions would be considered – including revamping the existing site.
While no firm timetable has been given, they have suggested that any change is unlikely before 2025 and that a more detailed scheme would first need to go to cabinet for approval and then enter the formal planning process.
The row could yet prove a decisive issue in the coming elections, given Elmdon is traditionally a two-way fight between the Tory and Lib Dem groups.
And this year the ward is a particular prize, since a by-election delayed from last summer means there are two seats in play in May.
Success here could prove key to Conservative hopes of holding onto their narrow majority on Solihull Council.
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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