Having to book to use the tip should be something that’s here to stay, a council has recommended.
When household waste recycling centres reopened in May 2020 – following two months of closure due to the first Covid-19 lockdown – queues tailed back for miles across the county, forcing Hampshire County Council to introduce a booking system a month later.
Since then, more than three million bookings have been made, and the council is proposing to make the change permanent.
Paul Laughlin, director of economy, transport and environment, said: ‘Despite some initial challenges created predominantly by excessive demand, the booking system has proved to be very successful.
‘The severe queuing outside HWRCs was eliminated and allowed the additional traffic management and site security that was required to be removed which significantly reduced the additional cost of service provision.
‘A number of unsolicited compliments have been received from members of the public who find the booking system more convenient and a better customer experience.’
Currently, the booking system is managed by a third party, which is costing the county council £40,000 per year.
But if booking for the tip is made permanent, the county council could bring the service in-house.
There are no limits on how many times people can visit the tip, after once-a-week restrictions were lifted last October.
More than 90 per cent of the three million bookings have been made online, the council added.
Mr Laughlin said: ‘The booking system, while initially a Covid response to facilitate a safe passage through the sites whilst social distancing restrictions were enforced, has proved to be operationally sound and popular with the public.
‘It allows site staff to plan operational activities with confidence, while the public can book a slot at their nearest site at a convenient time, safe in the knowledge that they will be able to attend the site efficiently and not wait in a queue to get in.’
The council is recommending that executive lead member for economy, transport and environment, Councillor Rob Humby, approves the plans at his decision day later this week.
Before that it will be presented to a cross-party select committee for debate.