‘Extremely long queues’ at recycling centres prompts Labour group letter

PUBLISHED: 16:05 21 May 2020

Left to right: Labour Essex County Councillors Lee Scordis, Pat Reid, Allan Davies, Julie Young, Ivan Henderson, Dave Harris. Photo: Essex County Council Labour group

Left to right: Labour Essex County Councillors Lee Scordis, Pat Reid, Allan Davies, Julie Young, Ivan Henderson, Dave Harris. Photo: Essex County Council Labour group

Essex County Council Labour group

Essex Labour said towns across Essex have seen “enormous queues” - as predicted by the group ahead of the reopening of 15 centres across Essex.

The Labour group, which is part of Essex County Council, have warned about the problem and suggested measures that should have been taken ahead of some recycling centres reopening. Before the reopening of the recycling sites including Saffron Walden, Braintree and Chelmsford on May 18, they said the county council should have put a booking system in place and reopen all Essex centres.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said at the time that a booking system was considered, but working on one would have “caused further delays in reopening the recycling centres”.

“Booking systems also slow vehicle throughput and reduce the site capacity as checks are required at the gate and those that attend without booking would need to be dealt with,” the spokesperson added.

Now, a few days after the reopening of the recycling centres, Essex Labour insists a booking system should be put in place – and say they do not believe this would have delayed the re-opening, and that the County Council had eight weeks to prepare.

So they sent a letter to Conservative County Councillor Simon Walsh, who is a cabinet member for environment and climate change action, and is therefore responsible for waste management – including minimisation.

The letter read: “Towns across Essex have seen enormous queues outside their recycling centres, with many roads being blocked after recycling centres were re-opened earlier this week. All this time cars have their engines running causing damage to the environment.

“The council’s plan to appeal to people’s common sense was always bound to fail and in our opinion Essex County Council have tried to deny any responsibility over the issue by taking this route.”

It also said the system proposed by the Labour group would allow people to book in time slots with their car registration details, and that those without internet could contact the recycling centre for bookings.

On Tuesday, Uttlesford District Council shared a post showing “extremely long queues” outside the Saffron Walden recycling centre.

Some residents suggested bookable slots should be implemented, while others blamed the queues on people not following the rules.

In a letter to this newspaper, Cllr Simon Walsh said he would like to thank Essex residents for their patience in the runup to the reopening of recycling centres.

He said: “A good deal of work was needed to ensure social distancing could safely be achieved. This involved marking out the parking bays, painting footprints on the ground to indicate where users can stand when depositing their waste, and a thousand extra information signs.

“We have worked closely with County Highways and Essex Police who have helped us manage the queues outside. Reports coming back to me have been very positive, with users and staff saying it is generally all going well, despite being very busy; to show one user’s appreciation, they presented site staff with ice creams during a very hot day!

“As expected, we have experienced many users turning up as they use this opportunity to get rid of their accumulated waste. I would urge, if you are able, to wait a little while longer as the sites will become less busy, and this will make your visit a better experience for you. If you can dispose of your rubbish using the kerbside collections, then please do so, and only consider using the recycling centre if the waste you have is becoming hazardous or is a safety issue.”

How has your experience at recycling centres been? Send us your thoughts, photos and videos at andra.maciuca@archant.co.uk together with your first and last name, location, and phone number.

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