THE fate of Romsey’s well-used waste centre is up in the air as civic chiefs debate shutting up to half the sites across the area - just over a year after they were saved from closure.

But the closure of the Bunny Lane site at Casbrook Common would leave people in the market town having to travel to Eastleigh to get to their nearest dump, or possibly even further.

The centre had seen charges introduced and its opening hours cut to prevent its closures after public outcry last June.

But now, following months of consultation, Hampshire County Council officers have suggested that £1.2m could be saved by closing household waste recycling centres across the county – £100,000 per site – and amending the hours of the rest.

And they also say that the tabled cuts could save a total of £20m, which may see school crossing patrols (£1.2m), subsidised bus services and community transport, such as Dial-a-Ride and Call and Go (combined £4m), lose their entire funding pot.

The proposed cuts are part of a plan by the county council to address an anticipated budget shortfall of £140m by April 2019.

The council has not confirmed which sites are threatened.

Now community leaders and campaigners have come out in force to condemn the proposals to drastically slash funding from vital services.

Romsey town Liberal Democrat councillor, Mark Cooper, pictured, has accused council heads of destroying essential services.

“Waiting until the county elections are over and then launching the total dismemberment of numerous essential services is cynical in the extreme,” added Cllr Cooper.

“Each of the planned transport cuts has the impact of forcing people to depend on cars more.

“Subsidised bus routes form 13 per cent of the county’s bus network and ceasing to fund community transport affects the most vulnerable in our society.”

However, Conservative council leader Roy Perry has defended the council’s decision to make these “tough decisions”.

“We have been reporting for some time now, that opportunities for reducing costs are getting harder to find,” he added.

“With less money available and growing demand for council services, tough decisions are having to be made about what the county council can and cannot do in the future.

“Residents have told us that they continue to support our financial strategy which has involved targeting resources to those who need them most; planning ahead and securing savings early.

“To date, this approach has helped the county council to invest in new, more efficient ways of working and has helped to minimise the impact on frontline services as far as possible.

“However, we now have to consider more radical ways of making ends meet.

“Inevitably, this will involve changes to the way services are delivered, and further reductions in our workforce.

“It is too early to predict what the precise impact will be, as plans are still evolving and further public consultation will be needed.

“Despite this financial challenge, the county council remains one of the strongest local authorities in the country - delivering some of the best public services to Hampshire’s 1.3 million residents.”

As reported last year, residents took to the streets across the county to protest the proposed closures of household waste recycling centres as part of a previous round of council savings.

One of the major protests took place in Alresford, near Winchester, where hundreds of angered residents held banners.

Proposals to deliver this latest round of anticipated savings will be discussed in a committee meeting next week, September 19, and then considered by the county council’s cabinet on Monday, October 16.

A final decision will then be made on November 2, followed by a number of further consultations with residents and stakeholders, where necessary.