Fife set to scrap online booking system at recycling centres

The booking system for Fife's recycling centres is destined for the scrapheap.

By Jon Brady, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 12:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 12:58 pm

Fife Council co-leader David Ross says the time is right to stop using the online tool to dispose of rubbish, first introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

Local authority environment bosses introduced the system to ensure that Fife tips were not overcrowded at the height of the public health crisis.

However, while many found it easy to use, it was not universally popular.

Kirkcaldy Recycling Centre (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

The system was criticised for limiting the number of visits and types of vehicles allowed; and for requiring a number plate - essentially banning pedestrians and cyclists altogether.

Administration councillors promised in June that a review would come in September - and all indications suggest the system will be dropped.

Cllr Ross said: “The Labour group has always taken the view that the booking system should be removed once it is safe to do so, and we believe that point has now come.

“As agreed in June, officers will be bringing forward plans as to how this can be done safely, at the meeting on September 2, and I hope that we can return to open access to our recycling centres as soon as possible after these have been approved.

Recycling centres across Fife have been operating under limited access since their return from lockdown (Pic: Fife Photo Agency) credit- Fife Photo Agency

“It is still important to ensure the safety of our staff, and as far as possible we need to prevent the problems of overcrowding and abuse that were occurring at these centres on occasions before the pandemic.

“Our recycling centres are there to serve the public and now that Covid restrictions are lifting, we need to ensure they are as easy to use as possible.”

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Critics called the system unwieldy and unfriendly to those who are not tech savvy.

Concessions were made by council officers who created a phoneline for those who did not wish to book online - but disgruntled noises about the tool have continued unabated.

Local Conservative councillors have tried for months to scrap what they describe as a "much hated" system. East Neuk Alliance for Unity councillor Linda Holt launched a petition calling for it to be chucked, and gathered nearly 5,000 signatures in support. Come September 2, they may finally get their wish.

Group leader Cllr Dave Dempsey said: "There’s a continuing widespread demand from the public for an end to the booking system at the council’s recycling centres.

"We can appreciate it was a measure introduced to combat Covid but it’s no longer needed or indeed wanted.

"The council rightly wants the public to recycle, the public themselves want to recycle and we should be making it as easy as possible.

“Once the booking system has gone, we will urge Fife Council to reconsider other despised restrictions, such as types of trailer and bans on pedestrians.

"The idea that, during a climate emergency, someone living near a recycling centre should have to drive there is daft unless there’s a very strong safety aspect."

Fife's environment and protective services sub committee will discuss the future of the booking system on September 2.

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