Recycling centres in Kent to remain appointment only after public consultation

Cars queue to get into a waste recycling centre in Ashford. Credit: PA Images

A booking system imposed on waste and recycling centres in Kent will remain, after a public consultation showed support for measures introduced during the pandemic.

Kent County Council launched a public consultation on whether the booking system should remain in August last year.

10,705 people responded to the consultation whilst it was open.

The council said there was a 'clear margin' in favour of retaining the booking system and Cllr Susan Carey, Cabinet Member for the Environment at Kent County Council, took the decision to keep the booking system.

Of those who responded negatively to the proposals, the main objection was the lack of 'on the day bookings'.

To mitigate this, Kent County Council trialled same day bookings at its Folkestone, Maidstone and New Romney sites.

The trial, it says, was a success and will now be extended to all 18 of the county's waste and recycling centres. Same day bookings will be implemented in a 'phased' approach which will be completed by March.

The consultation also asked respondents about the ease of use of the booking system, which 7,905 people said was 'easy to use'.

However for those who do not use the internet, or cannot get online, bookings can also be made over the phone.

KCC Cabinet Member for Environment Susan Carey said: “This is the largest response to a public consultation by KCC that any of us can recall and, whilst a consultation is not a referendum, there was a clear margin in favour of those who felt positive about keeping the booking system.

“The booking system was introduced as an emergency measure to keep visitors and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been changed in response to customer feedback with slots now available at half-hourly intervals and no limit to the number of bookings that can be made on one day or up to a month in advance.

“As well as minimising the time spent queuing to access a site, the booking system has brought environmental, operational and communication benefits. I’m very pleased with the level of support it has received in the consultation.”