RESIDENTS living in West Berkshire and further afield will be banned from using Smallmead Recycling Centre with the introduction of a new permit scheme.

The move comes after the district council slashed its £500,000 subsidy to cover the cost of its residents coming into Reading to use the site.

Bosses at re3 estimate around 15 per cent of those who use their services come from across the border and the latest measure is designed to make it "fairer" on council tax-payers in Reading, Wokingham and Bracknell, who fund the service.

A free vinyl windscreen sticker will soon be sent out to each household in the three boroughs to give them access to the Smallmead and Longshot Lane, Bracknell, recycling centres from July 1.

People who forget their pass can still gain entry with alternative forms of ID but residents are urged not to rely on this as it could lead to heavy delays at peak times.

Anyone living outside those areas will be turned away, with West Berkshire residents being recommended to use either the Padworth or Newbury facilities, run by Veolia.

Reading Borough Council's lead member for neighbourhoods Councillor Liz Terry, said: "The recycling centres are paid for by re3 area residents for re3 area residents. and we feel strongly that as a partnership we should continue to provide the best possible waste processing service for Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham.

"At a time when we are having to consider extremely difficult budget cuts, making savings and improving efficiency in waste management could help us to protect frontline services."

In the same announcement re3 said it would also be clamping down on "unscrupulous traders" by introducing a 12 visit permit for those arriving in commercial vehicles.

Currently residents from outside the three authorities which fund the waste management deal will be turned away after June 30 but it is hoped a pay per visit system could be introduced later in the year.

Although Cllr Terry admitted there was a chance the measure could lead to further flytipping she and colleagues urged residents to work with them on the new project and said they would continue to prosecute anyone dumping waste illegally.

Cllr Angus Ross, executive member for environment at Wokingham Borough Council described the plan "the best we could come up with in a short period of time" after West Berkshire announced it would withdraw its funding earlier in the year.

The initial set up cost of sending out permits and employing "meet and greet" staff to check the passes will be around £65,000.

A spokesman for West Berkshire Council said: "Last year the council held a public consultation on a range of savings proposals as we had to find savings of £18.9m in 2016/17.

"In March, the council decided to cease funding for the re3 partnership and our agreement will finish at the end of June.

"Alternative waste centres in that area remain in Padworth for recycling and in Newbury for all household waste.

"Whilst this will be unwelcome news to those people who currently use the Smallmead site the scale of the financial challenges we face this year, and will in the future, mean we have had to make some difficult decisions about the services we provide."

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