CONTROVERSY has sparked as Wrexham Council has closed its recycling centres to non-Wrexham residents living close to the county borough.

Llangollen residents have been using Plas Madoc recycling centre - just five miles away from the town - since 2007 after its recycling tip closed - but due to the demand currently placed on sites they have been told they can no longer access it.

To compound matters, a pop-up recycling scheme which saw bin wagons park up at the Llangollen Pavilion to collect people's waste on a Saturday morning has been suspended amid Covid-19 concerns.

This leaves residents facing the prospect of travelling 14 miles to Ruthin to dispose of their waste.

Llangollen resident and former Denbighshire County Council deputy leader Stuart Davies is calling on the authority to reinstate the service.

He said: "Steps now need to be taken to address the lack of facilities here in the Dee Valley, at the very least the wagon at the Pavilion on a Saturday morning needs to be reinstated immediately.

"It's ridiculous that Dee Valley residents have to break the rules to travel upwards of 15 miles to Ruthin to access a recycling centre.

"I don't buy the concerns over safety amid the Covid-19 pandemic as it could be done very safely and with social distancing firmly in place - there is more than enough room in the car park for it to be done safely.

"Ruthin recycling centre is very small and the risk of coming into close contact with people is far greater than would be with the pop-up service."

Denbighshire Council says it understands the frustration within communities in the Dee Valley over the issue, but that the pop-up scheme "simply cannot be reinstated safely at the moment" given the current situation around Covid-19.

The authority says the Saturday pop-up service remains under review, but that its resumption will not be possible until some "significant changes" have been made to the current lockdown restrictions.

A spokesman for Denbighshire Council said: "We must take a responsible approach where the health and safety of residents and staff is concerned, and we would not be able to ensure that social distancing would be maintained if the mobile recycling centre service was resumed.

“The mobile provision does not happen at managed waste sites. It has taken a lot of planning to ensure that it was safe to re-open the managed household waste recycling centres. However, as they are contained and managed sites, it was possible to do.

"Unfortunately, it is just not possible to do the same with the mobile service. The council has a duty of care for its staff and the general public, and this has to be taken very seriously, especially during a global pandemic.

"If it cannot be done safely, then it must not be done. We are not out of the woods yet with Covid-19, and we must not put the public, or our staff at any unnecessary risk."

“Although we acknowledge that people in the Dee Valley area have to travel further than most Denbighshire residents to reach their nearest recycling centre, there will also be other people in Denbighshire who live more than five miles away from their nearest recycling centre. However, the important point is that everyone (no matter where they live) needs to assure themselves that their journey to a recycling centre is essential. If it is not an essential journey, they should not undertake it."

Mr Davies also informed the Leader about an "ad hoc" agreement made between Denbighshire and Wrexham councils in 2007 for Dee Valley residents to use Plas Madoc recycling centre.

He claims council officers now say this agreement never existed, but points to Environment Scrutiny records from 2007 which he says "quite clearly show that Denbighshire and Wrexham councils were in agreement to our use of the Plas Madoc site".

Wrexham Council says all its recycling centres remain very busy, and that to allow residents living outside of Wrexham County Borough the use of them would cause even more congestion.

It says as the service is paid for by Wrexham residents, the council needs to restrict its use for Wrexham residents only.

Mr Davies says once demand dies down and the Covid-19 situation improves, Denbighshire Council should come to an agreement with Wrexham Council about paying a yearly sum for the use of the Plas Madoc site for Denbighshire residents in the Dee Valley.

Cllr David A Bithell, Wrexham Council's lead member for environment and transport, said: "All our HWRC’s (Household Waste Recycling Centres) are busy and to allow residents from outside the county borough to utilise the sites in Wrexham would cause even more congestion than currently experienced and would put an unfair weighting onto Wrexham County Borough Council.

"To open the HRWC sites was a major political and logistical exercise carried out solely for the benefit of the residents of the Borough.

"This service is very popular and one which our residents are entitled to and which they support through their Council Tax and as such we need to restrict it to Wrexham residents only. We have had people from many, many miles away trying to use these sites and we are unable to take on the waste responsibility of other local authorities so have put the controls in place to protect our interests.

"Officers continue to regularly monitor all sites.”