Upminster tip set to reopen after row between waste authority and Havering Council leader

Gerpins Lane tip is due to reopen on Monday, May 11. Picture: Google

Gerpins Lane tip is due to reopen on Monday, May 11. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

A tip is due to reopen after a row between Havering Council’s leader and the borough’s waste authority.

Leader of Havering Council, Cllr Damian White. Picture: Havering Council

Leader of Havering Council, Cllr Damian White. Picture: Havering Council - Credit: Archant

Cllr Damian White accused East London Waste Authority (ELWA) on May 6 of not doing enough to reopen the Gerpins Lane reuse and recycling centre in Upminster.

ELWA, which is chaired by Cllr White’s Conservative Party colleague Cllr Osman Dervish, oversees waste disposal for Havering, Redbridge, Newham and Barking and Dagenham.

In a letter to ELWA dated May 5, Cllr White said he felt disappointed the centre was then closed and there was no “clear” path to reopening.

He added the Metropolitan Police and government had said sites can reopen after closing to the public during the Covid-19 lockdown.

James Asser. Picture: LBN

James Asser. Picture: LBN - Credit: Archant

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However, ELWA vice-chairman James Asser said before government guidance was revised last week, the advice was that going to the tip was unnecessary travel.

He added it would not have been responsible to re-open Gerpins before the new guidance when councils were trying to enforce the lockdown.

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Mr Asser said ELWA officers have worked with the four councils’ staff to finalise plans since the updated advice came out and was discussed by ELWA’s board of eight councillors, including two from Havering.

In the letter, Cllr White accused ELWA of having previously failed to meet its legal duty.

But Mr Asser said as a public body ELWA was duty bound to work within the lockdown guidelines to protect staff and the public during “very difficult circumstances”.

Havering’s leader claimed ELWA did not take up offers to supply protective kit, traffic management support and staff to get the tip open to the public again.

And ELWA did not take advantage of Havering’s offer to pilot reopening Gerpins Lane either with council officers ready to reopen on April 27, he added.

However, Mr Asser said ELWA’s board discussed it, but was concerned opening Gerpins at that time would lead to difficulties because of its smaller size.

ELWA’s tips are due to reopen on Monday, May 11 with limits on access to maintain safety. Council dust carts have been using the sites throughout lockdown.

A Labour Party councillor in Newham, Mr Asser – thanking the public – said: “They have been hugely co-operative, patient and understanding.”

But Havering Labour Party leader Keith Darvill accused Cllr White of playing politics.

“We don’t want to see political, petulant point-scoring from Damian White that helps no one,” he said.

Cllr White said: “It is regrettable that we are in a situation where some people are choosing to play party politics while I’ve been doing the work to get the tips opened as soon as possible.”

He added there had been huge public appetite to get the site reopened, adding he had previously had no confidence Gerpins Lane would be reopened, claiming the organisation had been effectively mothballed during the lockdown.

“It is only because of the pressure I put on ELWA that enabled them to reopen,” Cllr White said.

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