DIY enthusiasts could soon be free to dump waste at council recycling centres, but opposition councillors have urged the council to name the date the controversial charges will be scrapped.

Surrey County Council started charging residents £5 for dumping a tyre and £4 for a bag of construction waste at its nine recycling centres, including those in Blenheim Road, Epsom, and Randalls Road, Leatherhead, in September.

Residents had launched a petition urging the council to think again, and councils had raised fears the charges might lead to people dumping waste illegally.

From August 2016: Epsom and Ewell Borough Council fear introduction of recycling charges counter-intuitive to Surrey-wide fly-tipping crackdown

From August 2016: Residents launch petition urging Surrey County Council to scrap recycling charges amidst fly-tipping fears

The government this week warned the charges could contribute to fly-tipping and confirmed it legally should be free to dispose of waste at recycling centres.

Current guidance outlaws the fees, but fresh guidance would also be issued to councils reminding them it is illegal to charge residents to dispose of household waste at the tip.

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Andrea Leadsom MP. Pic credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire​

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Andrea Leadsom MP said this week: "Charging local residents for doing the responsible thing and taking their household waste to the tip is not only unfair and unacceptable, but could also be a lead factor in the reported increases in fly-tipping."

Surrey County Council had introduced the charges to offset the “severe financial pressure” it faced due to government cuts.

From December 2016: Surrey County Council forced to dip into 'largest ever use of reserves' to address £15 million overspend

From February 2017: Surrey County Council leader U-turns on plans for 15 per cent tax increase minutes before vote

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

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Liberal Democrat Councillor Stephen Cooksey (pictured above) has now written to Councillor Mike Goodman, council highways member, and Ms Leadsom asking about when the waste charges in Surrey would be scrapped.

He said: “They should never have been introduced in the first place. The guidance from the government this week could not be clearer, so I am hoping that Cllr Goodman will be able to name a date that the charges will cease as quickly as possible.”

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Surrey County Hall. Pic credit: Jon Sharman

A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “We brought in charging for some construction waste in line with the law, as have many other councils, because of the severe financial pressure we’re facing from rising demand for services and falling government funding and we will carefully study the new national guidance when it’s issued.

“We launched a concerted drive last year to tackle fly-tipping – which was already a problem – and the amount of fly-tipped rubbish collected by Surrey’s councils has fallen by 1,000 tonnes over the past year.”

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