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Booking system opens for essential visits to recycling centres

Booking system opens for essential visits to recycling centres

by Danielle Thompson (May 2020)

LANCASHIRE County Council will be reopening most of its recycling centres on Friday 15 May, but people will need to book an appointment before visiting. There will also be other restrictions on how people can use the sites.
The booking system is now open, with bookings available online or by calling the council's customer service centre. People will be given a 30 minute window in which to visit, with the number of appointments available being limited to allow staff to check people's details on arrival and manage their movement around the site to ensure social distancing. 12 of the usual network of 16 sites will be reopening, with sites at Carnforth, Garstang, Haslingden, and Longridge, remaining closed.
The council is operating a slightly reduced network because each site now needs more staff to be able to operate safely and effectively. These four facilities are among the quietest in terms of visitor numbers, have easily accessible alternative facilities, or present specific challenges in terms of operating safely while maintaining social distancing. Whilst they will remain closed initially everyone will still have access to a recycling centre within reasonable reach of where they live. The council intends to learn from how the other sites operate to consider how these sites can also be reopened safely.

People are being asked to only book a visit if they have an essential need to dispose of some excess waste, as demand is expected to be very high. There are also restrictions on how people use the sites.

- People will be asked to only bring one type of waste per visit. Visitors will not be able to walk freely around the site as they could previously. This is because the sites have been reconfigured to ensure social distancing, and visitors will be asked to drive up to the particular skip they need.
- People can only visit by car, with a complete ban on the use of all trailers and vans. Access to the sites will be controlled using vehicle registration numbers.
- People cannot bring construction and demolition waste, also known as inert waste, and plaster, plasterboard or asbestos, and the usual permit system allowing people to bring limited amounts of this waste will not be operating.
- People will need to carry their waste from their car to the skip as staff will not be able to help.
- People will be limited to one visit per calendar week, and cannot book multiple visits by choosing different sites.
- People must not visit if they have any symptoms of coronavirus or should be self-isolating.
The council is also highlighting that it will be enforcing a zero tolerance approach to any abuse or aggression towards staff.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs, and waste management, said: "I'm very pleased that we'll be reopening our recycling centres this week, as I'm keenly aware of how much people value this service, and want to be able to dispose of excess waste, along with items which the regular doorstep collections can't handle.
"However I would ask people to understand that we cannot provide the service in the usual way due to need to ensure social distancing, and manage the huge demand that has built up while the sites have been closed.
"Operating a booking system will be more convenient in many ways as it will ensure that people can visit during a specified timeslot without having to queue for hours. However it's also absolutely necessary to manage demand, and ensure that we don't cause traffic issues which could place pressures on other vital services such as the police.
"We expect that demand for appointments will be very high, particularly to begin with, and we will be closely monitoring the number we make available in the hope that the new system will work well and we can make adjustments to allow more visitors once everything is up and running. I would ask people to only visit if they really need to, and to be patient as this is the first time we have operated in this way, and I am sure that appointments will get booked-up very quickly. People will be advised of the various restrictions in place as they book, and it's vital that everyone takes the time to understand them as they are needed for good reasons. A condition of visiting is that people observe these restrictions and respect our staff, as we have a duty to protect them and will not tolerate any abuse or aggression towards them."
Appointments will be made available several days ahead, with new slots released throughout the day. Each site will open on the same days, and during the same hours, as under normal circumstances, with full details available on the council's website.
The vast majority of councils closed Household Waste Recycling Centres at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in line with government legislation which did not include trips to recycling sites within the essential journeys allowed under

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