Booking system aims to end queues at West Lothian recycling centres

Saturday August 26th 2023

West Lothian Recycling Centre queue

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Cutting opening hours at West Lothian’s recycling centre and making residents book their visits in advance will actually improve the service for people, it has been claimed.

A booking system will be brought in at the five recycling centres in the county next month, while operational hours will be cut back.

And this week one of the council’s depute chief executives insisted the changes would improve the service for locals – and mean people should no longer have to wait in queues to get in.

In the past that problem has been so bad that police have had to attend at Oakbank in Livingston because of traffic jams as people queued to use the centre during the holidays.

Households will be able to book a slot for a visit to a CRC site in the next few weeks in time for the changes coming into force next month.

Linlithgow Local Area Committee had asked Jim Jack, head of Operational Services in the council to address their concerns about changes to the opening times in the town’s CRC.

From September Linlithgow’s CRC in Braehead Road will only be open on a Tuesday from 10am to 6pm , a Saturday from 10am to 2pm and a Sunday from 2pm to 6pm.

Across the five sites the opening hours have been cut from 280 hours to 144 hours from September to help save £336,000.

Mr Jack told the local area committee: “The new booking system is already successfully in operation for vans and trailers. That will move over to customers. We will publicise it when it goes live.”

Graeme Struthers, a depute chief executive and lead officer for the LAC said “A change to the booking system gives people greater certainty. You can book and therefore get that slot.”

Addressing SNP concerns on fly-tipping he added: “People are making that choice not to take material to recycling centres, before the hours have been cut.”

Andy Johnston, an Operations Manager, told the meeting that a new campaign against fly-tipping, offering advice to households was about to be launched.

It will stress the need for residents to check waste handling licences from traders who offer disposal services. If they don’t and their waste if fly-tipped they could be on the hook for a fine along side the rogue trader.

Councillor Pauline Orr welcomed the promises of public information saying: “There’s a lot of rogue traders out there.”

Chairing the meeting, Councillor Sally Pattle said: “Thank you for having information to hand to people using the recycling centres at the moment that is far more useful to people than any sort of social media campaign.”

Highlighting the new reduced hours she added she had concerns but added: “If you look at the data, I can understand on paper how it makes sense.”

The new hours will see all five centres retained, with at least two sites open each day between 10am and 6pm – which remains significantly more than some other neighbouring council areas.

As weekends are the most popular days to visit, all five CRCs will be open every Saturday and Sunday.

The booking system will also be in place for all vehicles in advance of the changes to opening times and householders will be able to book a slot on the council’s website.

For those that cannot book online, customers will also be able to make bookings via the Customer Contact Centre.

Bookings for all visits will be made available one week in advance of the new hours being implemented. A similar system is already in place in Falkirk and Edinburgh.

Speaking after the meeting Linlithgow Labour councillor, Tom Conn who is also Executive councillor for the Environment and Sustainability, said: “By reducing opening hours we are able to ensure that our limited budget is used to keep all five CRCs open, and we do not have to consider other options, such as the closure of any sites.

“West Lothian will continue to have more CRCs than other local councils, especially when you compare us against councils of a similar size and population.

“In Falkirk, a similar council to West Lothian in terms of population size, there are two CRCs and this has been the case for some time. Both are also open part time and both have moved to an online booking system. I believe this highlights that this isn’t a decision that West Lothian faces alone.

“The introduction of a booking system has several benefits for customers who want guaranteed access, with less queues to enable a quick turnaround on their visit. The majority of our neighbouring councils already have booking systems in place.”

He added: “The previous changes to opening hours in 2019 did not lead to a significant rise in fly-tipping and that is because the vast majority of fly tipping in West Lothian, around 80%, is commercial in nature and that has always been an issue. Law-abiding households don’t dump their waste illegally.

”These changes impact on local residents, not commercial operators and all householders will still have access to a CRC, 7 days a week, so there is no excuse for illegal dumping.”

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