Closing four Surrey tips has been made a last resort after councillors raised concerns that the cuts would lead to fly-tipping.

Scrapping four Surrey recycling centres is one of several proposals put forward by Surrey County Council to cut £8.2million from its environment and transport budget this year.

Green party councillor Jonathan Essex this week tabled a motion asking the county council to work with borough and district councils, and Surrey Waste Management to explore alternatives before committing to closing any centres.

His motion to make closures of centres at Bagshot, Cranleigh, Warlingham and Dorking a last resort was passed unanimously at a full council meeting on Tuesday, July 11.

From June: Surrey County Council’s proposed cuts to community recycling centres ‘would give green light to fly-tippers’, Liberal Democrat opposition councillor claims

Ending residents’ free daily allowance of non-household waste, closing the county’s recycling centres on two weekdays, and baring vans, trailers and pick-up trucks from smaller dumps, were among other Surrey County Council proposals to balance the highways budget.

Announcing the consultation last month, the council insisted a “high-quality service” would still be maintained at its 15 recycling centres it tries to make more than £100million worth of savings this year to offset sustained Tory austerity.

From April: Epsom and Ewell Borough Council fear introduction of recycling charges counter-intuitive to Surrey-wide fly-tipping crackdown

From April: Residents launch petition urging Surrey County Council to scrap recycling charges amidst fly-tipping fears

Councillor Essex said cutting the services appeared to be a “false economy” and welcomed his motion being passed – but criticised the Conservative majority for “watering down” his criticism of the impact on the environment.

He had argued that the increase in charges and reduction in opening hours at other sites would be “detrimental to the environment” in his original motion, but this clause was removed.

Epsom Guardian:

Cllr Essex (pictured above) added: "Community recycling centres in Surrey are appreciated and well used by residents - the four threatened with closure had an average satisfaction rate of 79 per cent.

"I look forward to seeing the results of the consultation in August as it clear to me that these vital services should be retained in order to save the county council money and to protect the natural environment of Surrey.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Stephen Cooksey and Labour’s Robert Evans argued that the proposed changes would lead to an increase in fly-tipping – a claim dismissed by Mike Goodman (pictured below), Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for environment and planning.

Epsom Guardian:

Cllr Goodman added: “Surrey has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

“I don’t believe that the good people of Surrey will see this as an opportunity to break the law.”

He added that the council had no evidence that reducing services led to an increase in fly-tipping.

Epsom Guardian:

But Labour Cllr Evans (pictured above) fought back, arguing: “The evidence on the ground – literally, on the ground – is that there has been an increase in fly-tipping.

“It might not be on land that is owned by the borough or county council. It might be private land.”

Outlining the reasons behind the consultation, which runs until August 7, a council officer wrote: “Continued cuts to funding, rising costs and increasing demand for key services means that the need for Surrey County Council to find savings has reached unprecedented levels.

“We are determined to meet our responsibilities and will continue to support our residents as effectively as we can, but despite having achieved £450million worth of savings since 2010, changes to services are still needed to deliver the required savings.”

From December: Surrey County Council forced to dip into 'largest ever use of reserves' to address £15 million overspend

From March: Surrey County Council plans to cut millions of pounds from frontline services in face of Conservative austerity

The government has cut the council’s annual grant by £170million since 2010, while demand for adult social care, learning disabilities, and children’s services is increasing.

Earlier this year, the Conservative cabinet at county hall approved £72million worth of cuts from frontline services across the next five years.

For more information, and to take part in the consultation, visit https://www.surreysays.co.uk/e--i-directorate-programme-group/shaping-surreys-community-recycling-centres-1/