Will Suffolk rubbish tip booking system remain permanently post-Covid?

Suffolk County Council introduced booking slots for the re-opening of recycling centres and rubbish tips in May. Picture...

Suffolk County Council introduced booking slots for the re-opening of recycling centres and rubbish tips in May. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Improvements to the booking system for Suffolk’s rubbish tips are in the pipeline – and the system could be kept permanently post-Covid.

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for waste, Paul West, said the booking system had proved successful for the rubbish...

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for waste, Paul West, said the booking system had proved successful for the rubbish tips and recycling centres. Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Rachel Edge

Suffolk County Council introduced online and phone booking for its 11 rubbish tips and recycling centres in May following the first Covid-19 lockdown, as part of measures to safely allow those sites to open.

The booking meant that only people who had booked a slot could attend to unload rubbish, in order to help with social distancing.

MORE: Suffolk recycling centres remain open in second lockdown as booking system gets praiseBut other benefits emerged such as reduced queuing on the roads and improved air quality around those sites.

The booking system has remained in place since then, and the council says feedback has generally been positive.

Social distancing measures were ontroduced at Suffolk recycling centres. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Social distancing measures were ontroduced at Suffolk recycling centres. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A motion put forward to Thursday’s full council meeting was unanimously passed for a series of improvements to that system, and leaders are even considering keeping it once the coronavirus pandemic passes.


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Improvements planned include on-the-day slots, sharpened-up systems at the site so that bookings do not have to be crossed off on paper records, and text message confirmation.

Conservative cabinet member for waste, Paul West said: “There is a strong argument that a booking system will help maximise throughput whatever the capacity, and reduce queuing times on a long term basis regardless of whether social distancing is in place.

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“However, I am open minded on that because our number one goal must continue to be two-fold – maximising throughput with whatever capacity is available and improving the customer experience.”

Plans for the new-look Foxhall Recycling Centre will include a feeder lane and raised car parking are due to be agreed soon.

Plans for the new-look Foxhall Recycling Centre will include a feeder lane and raised car parking are due to be agreed soon. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL - Credit: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Mr West said the council learned from more chaotic openings elsewhere in the country which resulted in long queues, and praised the efforts of staff for rolling out the booking system so successfully.

The motion comes in partnership with plans to upgrade recycling centres, which next week includes proposals by the cabinet to approve a £6.5million revamp of Foxhall Recycling Centre and £1.5m investment in Haverhill.

MORE: Suffolk recycling centres re-open with booking systemThose improvements will reduce queuing on the road and reduce the need for the sites to close frequently during the day to remove or crush down waste in containers.

Peter Gardiner, opposition Labour group waste spokesman, backed the motion and said: “I used the facility at the Foxhall Recycling Centre through the booking centre and it worked very well.

“I am pleased there will be the continued ability for people to phone and make a booking because not everyone has access to the internet.”

Final improvement plans are set to be brought back to cabinet or full council in the near future once those improvement options have been assessed.

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