£41,400 for nothing

PUBLISHED: 16:06 23 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:45 24 May 2010

CASH strapped council purseholders are paying contractors nearly £5,000 a month to run Portishead tip - despite the facility being closed. Waste management firm Viridor is picking up a pay cheque for £4,600 a month to run the Valley Road civic amenity sit

CASH strapped council purseholders are paying contractors nearly £5,000 a month to run Portishead tip - despite the facility being closed.Waste management firm Viridor is picking up a pay cheque for £4,600 a month to run the Valley Road civic amenity site, even though it has been closed since April.The authority is estimating the tip will remain closed until December while safety repairs are carried out.If this is the case, the council will have paid Viridor - who has a seven-year contract with the authority to run all its civic amenity sites - a staggering £41,400 over the nine months that the facility has remained shut.A spokesman for Viridor said although the tip has been closed, a member of staff had remained on site throughout the period to deal with fly tipping and advise the general public on alternative ways to dispose of their waste.Other staff who normally work at the Valley Road site have been deployed to other tips.But because of the strict planning rules laid down by North Somerset Council regarding the opening hours of the tips, the extra staff cannot be used to extend working hours at Backwell or Weston-Super-Mare.North Somerset Council spokesman Zoe Briffitt said: "Even though the site has been shut, North Somerset Council has continued to pay Viridor this fee in order to ensure that the site is monitored and where required and safe to do so, work is undertaken on the fabric of the site."This fee links to Viridor's requirement to maintain the site in compliance with the Environment Agency issued site licence and to stop payment could expose the council to risks regarding the monitoring and management during the closure period. The contract runs out in 2010."North Somerset Council executive member for environment and community, Councillor Deborah Yamanaka said this week she hoped the tip would be able to partially open while the repair work took place.Mrs Yamanaka said: "It should be possible to open the site partially while the work takes place, if a traffic management scheme can be agreed with the police."The reason for closure was in fact due to a number of traffic incidents while vehicles were queuing to use the partially opened site in April.

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