AUSTERITY may be biting in Wiltshire, but closing the recycling facility at Everleigh is a cut too far, according to over 100 people who packed a meeting on Monday to protest at the closure.

Disgruntled residents from Everleigh, Pewsey, Collingbourne Ducis and the surrounding villages quizzed councillors at the Tidworth Garrison Theatre and expressed their anger about a proposal to close the facility – saying the alternatives in Marlborough, Amesbury and Devizes were too far away.

However, Wiltshire Council said of the eleven recycling centres in the county, Everleigh has the least number of visitors and they need to save money.

Addressing the residents, portfolio holder for waste Jerry Wickham said: “Let’s be clear, no decision has been made.

“The situation that occurred in September was the most cack-handed arrangement that ever took place where the closure of Everleigh got in the cabinet paper.

“That was an absolute poorly handled situation and myself, along with other councillors, only knew that morning. As a consequence it was stopped because you as a community have a right to voice your opinion.

“We have come here tonight and presented the case of why we do not believe Everleigh is viable. We are listening to what you are saying.”

Statistics they collected show more than 17,000 people visited the recycling centre between July and October this year, compared to more than 80,700 visitors to Warminster’s.

The site at Lower Compton, near Calne, is the second least used but had 34,909 visitors, more than double the amount of Everleigh.

Councillor Wickham also pointed out there are other recycling centres within WRAP'S suggested 30 minutes. He added: “You are not using Everleigh to the degree it should be and that is the stark reality.”

But councillor Kim Wheeler-Mallows, of Everleigh Parish Council, disagreed, He said: “This rural community gets nothing from other services provided by the council.

“We do not have buses any more, we barely have street lighting, so all we are asking for is that site to be kept open for perhaps two days.”

Toby Sturgis, cabinet member for strategic planning, property, waste and strategic housing, said he would look into the costings of keeping it open for two days, but closing the centre would save £135,000 a year and £60,000 of that would be used to provide an extra hour at the remaining ten sites.

Alan Wood, a former district councillor, said: “We all deserve to have reasonable access to a recycling centre. I think you are being totally unreasonable.”

Another resident added: “I have sat in queues at 10 o’clock in the morning trying to get into Everleigh. You talk about Marlborough and Devizes being reasonable alternatives, they are not because of traffic.”

A motion was passed to recommend the facility stays open and will now be considered by the cabinet.