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Call to lift restrictions at West Berkshire Household Waste Recycling Centres



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Calls have been made to lift restrictions on the number of weekly trips people can make to West Berkshire Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC).

The council introduced a booking system last May for its HWRCs in Newbury and Padworth, limited to one visit a week, to help limit numbers and enable social distancing during lockdowns.

With restrictions easing and now likely to end on July 19 the West Berkshire Liberal Democrats are calling on the council to scrap the once a week limit.

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Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said there was "no reason they can tell me that makes sense for people being restricted to go only once a week.

"We did get feedback from officers that people would book several trips, but they were able to go several times a week before covid.

"Before covid, you paid your tax and you had access. They are not busy, there's no queue."

Jeff Brooks (48273084)
Jeff Brooks (48273084)

The council's executive member for the environment Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop & Crookham) told the NWN that the council was looking at making more frequent trips an exception, not the norm.

He said: "We are looking at exceptions, where people who do need to go more than once a week, to be a bit more relaxed. There's a justification, as an exception, to allow two trips a week if you've been doing a big DIY job or chopping the hedge down."

Mr Ardagh-Walter said there had been "an extremely strong public response" to keeping the booking system, and that 70 per cent of people surveyed in June said they wanted to keep it.

He said it provided "a more predictable experience for residents" to guarantee a slot without having to wait.

West Berkshire Council executive member for the environment, Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop & Crookham) (48930126)
West Berkshire Council executive member for the environment, Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop & Crookham) (48930126)

It also had environmental benefits such as reducing traffic on the A339 and was "a good little nudge" for people to think about the number of car journeys they made.

He said that the council was already starting to increase the number of slots with relaxed social distancing so more vehicles could be parked at any one time, and the system would be reviewed in a year.

Mr Brooks motion being asked tonight (Thursday) says: "Now that our society is opening up, the public should expect the council to rapidly re-instate the services that they pay their council tax to have available to them.

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(48930418)

"Whilst the booking system at these facilities has merit, consultation with the public should be undertaken to help determine if such a system should remain in place.

"Whilst that is undertaken, there is no reason for the restriction that allows a household to visit the facilities only once a week and for those facilities to close at 17.30 when they would normally stay open much later in the spring and summer months.

"Since both centres are not particularly busy and a booking can be made on the day or at least the following day, we call upon the council to immediately lift the once a week restriction and extend the opening hours without delay.

"This is the time of year when households need maximum access to the facilities and we are bound to provide the access they are used to and have paid for.”

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(48930387)


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