Booking system trial at rubbish tips in West Sussex ‘has worked extremely well’

More than 300,000 people have booked to use recycling centres in West Sussex since the new system was introduced.

And councillors have been told that it has worked so well that most users would like to see it retained permanently.

The system was introduced in March after lockdown demand saw queues of traffic clogging up roads around the centres, prompting Sussex Police to ask for some of them to be temporarily closed for safety reasons.

A report to a county council scrutiny committee on Thursday (September 30) said a public consultation had been planned to gauge opinion on making things permanent at the six trial sites.

A booking system trial was introduced at six tips in the spring: Bognor Regis, Crawley, Horsham, Littlehampton, Shoreham and Worthing

It would also ask for views on including the Burgess Hill Recycling Centre.

Figures presented to the meeting showed that 75 per cent of those who took part in a survey agreed the booking system was excellent or good, with 79 per cent wanting to make it permanent.

The booking system allows residents to use the recycling centres five times per month.

Carson Albury (Con, Sompting & North Lancing) said: “When I first heard about the restrictions I thought to myself this is a recipe for disaster – but I was totally wrong.

“It has worked extremely well and all the reports that I’m getting is that everyone is quite happy with it.”

Francis Oppler (Lib Dem, Bognor Regis East) disagreed and asked for the trial to end.

Mr Oppler said his feedback had been that ‘people have resented this trial’ and ‘disliked the restrictions on how many times they can visit’.

But, while Bognor residents appeared to have had the most issues with the system – only 56 per cent thought it was excellent or good – 60 per cent wanted to see it retained.

The committee raised three points about the system – the need for same-day booking, the idea of introducing an app to make booking even easier, and concerns about fly-tipping.

Gareth Rollings, commissioning and infrastructure manager, told the meeting that same-day booking was being looked at and the idea of an app would also be on the radar once the consultation ended.

Mr Rollings lauded the advantages of online booking, pointing out how the system had saved people from making wasted journeys.

High winds in July closed the Worthing site for a day while a road accident did the same to the Crawley site.

But rather than having to put notices outside, the council was able to email customers who had booked a time slot and let them know what had happened while also arranging for them to take their recycling to another site.

The decision on when to put the permanent use of the booking system out to public consultation will be taken by Deborah Urquhart, cabinet member for environment & climate change.

Mrs Urquhart also hinted at improvements to the Horsham and Littlehampton recycling sites, saying information would be brought to the committee in a year or so.