Before COVID struck, Islanders could visit either of the household waste and recycling centres without prior arrangement. However, when the tips re-opened in May 2020 the Council decided to implement a booking system to restrict numbers – a sensible decision at the height of the pandemic. Every other bay was closed off and for a time no general waste was being accepted.
Over the past 18 months, the booking system and on-site restrictions have been relaxed but Islanders are still required to log on and book a timeslot at least 24 hours in advance. This is despite the vast majority of people being vaccinated and there being no legal restrictions on social distancing – the whole reason for bringing in the booking system in the first place.
Spontaneous or last-minute trips to the dump are impossible and even those who plan a visit have to remember to book online in advance and stick to an appointment. Some cynical online commentators suggest the plan is to reduce the amount of waste being dumped altogether.
Since May 2020, a total of 221,554 booked visits have taken place at Lynnbottom with a further 46,025 at Afton Marsh. Based on approximately 80 weeks of operation (8 hours a day, 7 days a week, 56 hours a week), an average of 50 visits an hour have taken place at Lynnbottom since re-opening – despite it being ghostly quiet at times.
The Council say that the risk of staff being ‘pinged’ is a consideration when it comes to removing the booking system, although there being no requirement for anybody to have the COVID app and no requirement to self isolate if they are pinged. The build-up of traffic on the public highway is said to be another consideration.
A spokesperson for the Isle of Wight Council has told Island Echo:
“The council has received numerous compliments on the booking system with significantly reduced waiting times for visitors. Further, a recent email from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary Road Traffic Enforcement Advisor who has written to the council praising the reduction of traffic issues on Briddlesford Road and noting there have been no adverse reports to the police regarding the Afton Marsh Site since the introduction of the booking system”.
“Whilst a formal decision is yet to be made on the retention long term of the booking system, the health and safety of our residents and staff remain a priority. The high transmission rate of the Delta Variant and risk to service delivery if our staff are all ‘pinged’ are of concern, further the lack of queuing and dangerous overtaking on the highway is a key consideration.
“It is appreciated that it is possible by law to remove the booking system, however, we do not feel that it is the right time to do so as the pandemic is not over. We will continue to review the situation as the pandemic continues”.
All of the information required to book is available at www.iow.gov.uk/recyclingcentres and booking can also be made over the phone by calling 01983 823777.
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