'Why should Wolverhampton pick up Dudley's bill?' War of words as councils clash over tip cash

Dudley Council is in talks with neighbouring local authorities over a new deal for residents to use a tip after a war of words broke out between two council leaders.

Dudley residents are no longer able to use Wolverhampton Council's Anchor Lane tip in Bilston
Dudley residents are no longer able to use Wolverhampton Council's Anchor Lane tip in Bilston

People with a DY postcode have been banned from using the Anchor Lane Recycling Centre in Bilston after an agreement between Conservative-run Dudley Council and Labour-run Wolverhampton Council collapsed.

It means Dudley residents now only have one tip they can use – the household waste recycling centre in Stourbridge, which has had its opening hours extended to cater for increased demand.

Dudley Council's leader Patrick Harley has revealed talks were taking place with unnamed neighbouring local authorities over a deal for Dudley residents to use another tip.

He said: "We can't say too much at this stage but we are already in discussions with other local authorities regarding alternative sites. I am very positive that we will get a good outcome quite quickly."

For years Dudley Council had paid Wolverhampton Council a set annual fee for use of the Bilston site. However, Wolverhampton Council wanted to hike the fee from £200,000 to more than £330,000 – which Dudley Council was unwilling to pay.

It has sparked a political row between the two council leaders.

'Residents up in arms'

Mr Harley described the proposed increase as "an utter disgrace" and accused Wolverhampton Council of "back of a fag packet accounting".

He said: "Residents in Dudley are rightly up in arms. There is no basis to justify such an extortionate increase, particularly when we've only just set our budget for the year.

"We offered to pay some extra money and we were still negotiating this week, but there's no way we can commit to so much extra.

"Then they moved the goal posts again and said they wanted us to sign up to a five-year agreement at that extra cost.

"It is back of a fag packet accounting from a Labour administration who are trying to do any grubby deal they can to shore up their coffers.

"It is an utter disgrace and Dudley is not going to bail them out of their financial predicament at the expense of our own taxpayers. We will not be held to ransom.

"We believe the solution is to extend the hours at the Stourbridge site, and to talk to some of our neighbouring authorities who would probably appreciate some financial assistance more than Wolverhampton seems to.

"In this way we can accommodate all residents."

Why should Wolverhampton pick up Dudley's bill?

Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council, said discussions had gone on over the tip with Dudley Council for "several months".

He said during a review Dudley Council inspectors had found that 32 per cent of attendees at the tip were from Dudley, but that under a long-standing agreement Dudley Council was only paying 20 per cent of the annual running costs of £1m.

Mr Brookfield said: "There's been a bit of cat and mouse over the last few weeks and Dudley clearly didn't want this to go public before the elections.

"We asked for £333,000 a year running costs, and they offered us £275,000. That would mean the people of Wolverhampton would still be subsidising Dudley residents to the tune of nearly £60,000.

"I can't ask people in this city to do that. We don't want to make a penny piece in profit but why should people in Wolverhampton pick up Dudley's bill?

"We are more than happy if Dudley Council wants to come back to the table and pay their fair share.

"They have obviously decided they don't want to do that. Mr Harley should realise that we don't need Dudley Council to bail out the city of Wolverhampton.

"We're in a nice financial position as everybody knows. The ball is in their court."

Fly-tipping fears

Marco Longhi, the Conservative MP for Dudley North, has called for a new agreement to be reached as soon as possible in order to prevent a rise in fly-tipping.

"I believe this decision is going in the wrong direction and the local councils need to sort it," he said. "This won’t just impact Dudley but also other local areas such as South Staffordshire which border Dudley North.

“Personally, I believe the additional fee, demanded by Labour-run Wolverhampton Council, at such short notice is disgraceful. I am liaising with Dudley Council to see what options are available. There are calls for a more central site, the difficult being nobody wants it near their own properties.

“I agree that the tip in Stourbridge is out of the way for many in Dudley North. Although this is a council matter, I will see what can be done as soon as possible.

"We must avoid any decision that could have a negative impact on fly-tipping."

Sedgley councillor Shaun Keasey said he had been bombarded with emails from furious residents. He said: "I'm not sure what state Wolverhampton's finances are in but treating a neighbouring authority in such a poor way after a long term working partnership appears to be extremely bad form.

"I want to reassure residents in the north of Dudley that we are working hard to secure alternate arrangements and I'm sure more information will be provided soon.

"In the meantime I call upon colleagues in Wolverhampton to reconsider this excessive demand."

Meanwhile Labour councillors in Dudley have accused the borough's Tory administration of leaving residents in the lurch through a lack of planning.

Upper Gornal and Woodsetton Councillor Keiran Casey said it was "ridiculous" that residents had been given just one day's notice that they could no longer use the Anchor Lane site.

"I really do not understand why it seems no planning has been done to ensure that there was alternative provision available for the people in the north of the borough, but clearly this was not seen as a priority," he added.

Coseley Councillor Sue Ridney, said: "We all want to know what has happened here and why when these discussions have clearly been ongoing for a number of months, why no contingency plans have been put in place to ensure residents are not put in a position where they have no provision in their local area.

"I also want to know what can be done to sort these issues out once and for all for local residents with a proper plan put in place."

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