A CAMPAIGNER has hit out at councils over a land dispute which could see a planned new recycling centre in West Oxfordshire fall through.
Liz Leffman has been campaigning for a new recycling centre since Oxfordshire County Council closed Dean Pit, near Chadlington, last year.
West Oxfordshire District Council has stepped in and hopes to build a £190,000 new household recycling centre at its former depot Greystones, near Chipping Norton, to replace the closed facility.
But the council needs a strip of land running along the access road to improve visibility and access to the site before the scheme goes ahead.
Cabinet member for finance Simon Hoare said Chipping Norton Town Council, which owns the land, has asked for “hundreds of thousands of pounds” in rent, which he said would make the recycling centre plan unviable.
The town council has denied the figure but said it needed money to finance the increasing demands on the council and said it was looking after the town’s interests.
Miss Leffman said: “The town council is just being absurd about this. People want the recycling centre. If people are forced to drive a 30- to 40-mile round trip because they are holding out for money that is going to benefit nobody in the town.”
She added: “But West Oxfordshire District Council should have got the Is dotted and the Ts crossed before they went through public consultation and planning.”
Miss Leffman was elected as Liberal Democrat district councillor for Charlbury and Finstock in May following her campaigning on Dean Pit.
Mr Hoare said the council held pre-public consultation talks with the town council and district council officers had met with the town council’s asset management advisor on five occasions.
He said: “Chipping Norton Town Council is asking us to pay a ludicrous sum of rent for a fixed term period of 25 years, which renders the enterprise financially unviable.”
The district council has planning permission to convert the depot into a recycling centre and hoped to open it in the spring of next year.
Mr Hoare said the district council’s investment in Greystones would not give a return for 11 years – without the town council’s requests.
Chipping Norton mayor Martin Jarratt said the rent was still being negotiated but said that Mr Hoare’s figure was “very off”.
He said: “We are totally in favour of Greystones and want it to happen, but we could not agree to the district council’s terms and we are endeavouring to meet them in the middle.”