Booking system at six West Sussex rubbish tips could be made permanent and introduced at a seventh site

A booking system trialled at six West Sussex rubbish tips could be made permanent and introduced at a seventh site.

West Sussex County Council started the pilot at Household Waste Recycling Sites in Bognor Regis, Crawley, Horsham, Littlehampton, Shoreham and Worthing back in the spring.

As the six-month trial is now up, the system is due to be reviewed by the council’s communities, highways and environment scrutiny committee on Thursday (September 30).

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Officers are recommending a consultation be held on continuing the system at the six tips and extending it to a seventh - Burgess Hill.

West Sussex County Council operates 11 household waste recycling sites

The booking system was brought in ahead of the ‘spring surge’ which coincide with reduced capacity due to Covid restrictions and was seen as necessary to ensure residents could continue to access sites and reduce queuing on nearby roads.

An officers’ report says: “The scheme has proved successful in operation: not only meeting the above objectives but also proving to be popular with a large majority of users.

“It is proposed to undertake formal public consultation about adopting the scheme permanently at the six trial sites as well as the Burgess Hill Recycling Centre.”

Before the pilot booking scheme was introduced it was not uncommon for vehicles to be waiting to enter several of the HWRSs for 45-90 minutes.

At the end of December 2020, queues at a number of sites such as Crawley, Horsham, Littlehampton, Shoreham and Worthing became so long that Sussex Police made requests for sites to close temporarily on safety grounds.

By the end of August more than 300,000 bookings will have been made and officers believe the system’s introduction has ‘worked well’ giving users the opportunity to pre-book with minimal on-site waiting time.

One of the main aims of the booking system was to encourage residents to make fewer visits with larger loads and between April and July 2021 the average weight per visit was 69.4 kg compared to 65.5 kg covering the same period in 2019.

The centres have also seen a dramatic drop in traders attempting to deposit commercial waste.

Meanwhile a survey of residents visiting the centres carried out by Resource Futures ran in July.

A total of 911 surveys were completed, of which 609 were from sites with the booking system and 302 without.

Three-quarters of users surveyed at booking system sites found the experience either excellent or good, 81 per cent said the system was easy to use and 99 per cent either strongly agreed or agreed that queuing time had improved since the pilot started.

The most significant improvement users suggested was allowing for on the day bookings to increase flexibility.

Officers said: “Waste team officers are actively working with Biffa on improving internet connectivity at the sites and with the software provider with a view to adding this as an option.”

Site staff were also asked for feedback on the system and have unanimously requested it remains in place.

Instances of abuse towards staff have fallen, attempts to deposit trade waste illegally have reduced, comments from the public have been positive, there have been fewer slips, trips and falls by members of the public and it has been easier to keep track of users’ movements on site both for safety and placement of items in the right container.

Following the scrutiny meeting, should the Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change decide to go ahead with the proposals, a consultation on whether to make the trial scheme permanent could take place later this year.