A council has ploughed £50,000 into reserving a controversial site for a waste hub - despite a planned consultation to consider other sites.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council forked out the cash to secure an option on the land at Hollow Road Farm on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds for the West Suffolk Operational Hub. The authority also paid another £50,000 on feasability work on the site after the funding was agreed last summer.
However, since then hundreds of residents have hit out at the suitability of the Hollow Road site - prompting the council to hold a further six week consultation so the public can suggest alternative sites. Concerns have now been raised about the legitimacy of any further consultation given the amount of money already spent on Hollow Road Farm.
Sarah Bartram, of Fornham St Martin, who co-ordinated a campaign against the Hollow Road site, said the amount of funds spent was ‘disgusting’. She said: “My fear is that it isn’t going to be a genuine consultation. It’s a lot of money - if they had done it right the first time they wouldn’t have to be spending more money now.”
Cllr David Nettleton said: “It stinks. It’s going to look pretty silly when they’ve already committed themselves financially to one of the options.”
Michael Collier, chairman of Fornham St Marrtin cum St Genevieve Parish Council, said: “I suppose you could argue they were doing it for the right reasons at the time but if the hub doesn’t go there it certainly wouldn’t have been a good use of the public’s money.”
Borough Cllr Sarah Broughton, who represents Great Barton, said: “It’s a lot of taxpayers’ money but I do understand the commercial aspect the council have taken. I welcome the next round of consultation.”
Cllr Peter Stevens, cabinet member for operations, said they are committed to a second consulation, which will provide the public with documents including the site selection criteria and the process used to review potential sites. A date for the consultation has not yet been confirmed.