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

People will not need to climb up steps to dispose of waste under the new plans for Foxhall Recycling

People will not need to climb up steps to dispose of waste under the new plans for Foxhall Recycling Centre. 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 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.

But 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.


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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.

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.

County council cabinet member for waste, Paul West, said feedback to the booking system had been lar

County council cabinet member for waste, Paul West, said feedback to the booking system had been largely positive. Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Rachel Edge

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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.

“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.”

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.

Those 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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