A COUNTY council has been forced into a humiliating u-turn on unpopular plans to charge residents to use its tips.

West Sussex County Council has suspended charges for DIY waste at its 11 tips with immediate affect in response to a Government announcement.

On Monday, environment secretary Andre Leadsom said councils should end their “unfair” practice, which could be behind an increase in flytipping.

Charges of £4 per bag for soil, hardcore, DIY waste and plasterboard came into force in October but have now been suspended to “avoid confusion” until the government review is completed later this year.

Charges for tyres introduced at the same time will remain.

The council is now under pressure to reverse cuts to opening hours which have been reduced to five times a week at eight tips while there have been calls from Liberal Democrats for residents services’ cabinet member David Barling to resign.

Opposition councillors also claimed the suspension would leave a huge hole in council finances which would have to be filled by reserves while Liberal Democrat Francis Oppler said the authority could be left having to repay tens of thousands of pounds to residents who had already paid the charges because of question marks over their legitimacy.

Labour county council candidate Jim Deen had called on the authority to respond to the government’s call on Monday after learning of a huge flytip in Teville Gate in Worthing.

His party colleague Michael Jones said the charges had led to the amount of tyres, plasterboard, soil and hardcore being left at council tips dropping between 60 per cent and 95 per cent within the first four months of the changes.

He added: “The strange thing about this is that it is not a surprise. I stood up two months ago at budget council and warned the cabinet member that it went against what the Government wanted its local councils to do.

“There is a big financial black hole which they will have to fill.

“I just hope the council’s actions have not put people off going to their local tips.”

Council chief executive Nathan Elvery said: “In order to avoid any potential confusion for our residents we have decided to suspend all charges for these type of materials with immediate effect until the review by the Government has been concluded.

“Householders visiting any West Sussex amenity site will no longer be charged for the deposit of material which results from the sort of work householders would normally carry out on their homes – what most people would refer to as DIY waste.”