HAMPSHIRE’s recycling centres look set to reopen in just over a week, the Chronicle can reveal.
The leader of Hampshire County Council, which operates the centres, has written to Hampshire MPs to tell them the centres will reopen, with a provisional date of May 11.
It follows growing pressure from the public that the closures were too restrictive and that the centres provide a vital service.
There have been reports of an increase in fly-tipping including things being dumped in urban streets and not just in quite country lanes. The urban dumping includes a large quantity of material in Hatherley Road, Fulflood in Winchester.
Cllr Keith Mans wrote: “Following the announcement in Parliament by the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick that he was asking Councils to re-open HWRCs within the coming weeks, Hampshire County Council is working through the operational issues with our partner Veolia, who manage and operate the Hampshire sites on behalf of the County Council (and the two sites in Southampton and Portsmouth on behalf of the City Councils). I anticipate that the County Council will announce our decision to re-open sites imminently and set a timetable for the sites to re-open in the week commencing 11th May, subject to Government announcements, allowing for the advance work and required preparations to be completed.
“I want to clearly state that contrary to some reports, the County Council has not been resistant to re-opening the centres for anything other than reasons of staff and public safety and the fact that, despite conflicting guidance, our clear advice from the police is that it currently remains contrary to the emergency legislation for anyone to make a journey to the centres. The conflicting advice and guidance must be resolved before we can re-open.
“As you will appreciate providing a service such as the HWRCs in such a way as to maintain social distancing and protect the health and wellbeing of both site staff and residents is not straightforward particularly when you consider the number and variety of sites we have in Hampshire. In addition there are some key operational factors, such as the fact that we have used tipping capacity at local sites to support Waste Collection Authority operations and some notice needs to be provided to them to ensure that they are able to maintain their critical kerbside collection services without this contingency provision they have been using to date.
“I am pleased to say that we have been working closely with Veolia and plans are advancing well. These should enable safe operation of all sites even if in a different format than residents will be used to, albeit not dissimilar to facilities like supermarkets, which have equally different operating procedures and shopper experiences now to maintain safety and social distancing.
“We will seek to operate as normal a service as possible, however, there will be some significant differences. These will include: limits on the number people and vehicles on site; changes to opening hours to allow site cleaning at the start and end of the day and also to reduce the need to service bins during these opening hours; modifications to site layout and some site operations to enable social distancing to be maintained by both site users and site staff. We are also developing a comprehensive communications programme to inform residents of what to expect.
“The County Council is also working with colleagues in Hampshire Police regarding traffic and social order issues outside the sites. These are also critical safety factors. Also, we are communicating with all neighbouring authorities to try to co-ordinate activities as far as possible to reduce the potential for any unintended impacts.”
Cllr Mans’ letter concludes: “I hope that you will support me in asking the public to understand why we must exercise care in re-opening the centres and especially, once sites are open, to only use them where it is absolutely essential to do so and to maintain social distancing to ensure that we continue to protect the NHS and help prevent the spread of the virus.”
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