IMPROVEMENTS have been made to the online booking system to use household waste recycling centres (HWRC) in Hampshire, a councillor has said.

Hampshire County councillor Edward Heron, who represents the Fordingbridge area, spoke about the problems being experienced at the centres during a meeting of Fordingbridge Town Council, which was held online via Zoom on July 1.

He said: “I am of course aware of some of the problems experienced in accessing household waste recycling centres and the online booking system that it was not always apparent you could only book 48 hours in advanced which has caused some problems.”

Cllr Heron said the system had now been “improved” and users could book seven days in advance because people were struggling to get slots but emphasised that because of social distancing measures the centres were running at a lower capacity.

Hampshire County Council (HCC) is reminding residents to register for continued, automatic free access to its household waste recycling centres ahead of the introduction of a new e-permit system on August 1.

Councillor Rob Humby, HCC’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “Thank you to the many thousands of people who have already registered for this new system. Hampshire residents will continue to be able to use Hampshire HWRCs for free. We’re introducing this system because I want to find a way that provides effective and environmentally practicable options for residents who live close to Hampshire’s borders, to continue to access our HWRCs, but in a way that is fairer to Hampshire residents who pay for the cost of the service through their council tax.”

The system will be controlled by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and ensure continued free access for Hampshire residents to any of the 24 HWRCs, while access for non-Hampshire residents, excluding Dorset Council residents, will be for a fee of £5 per visit.

Councillor Humby added: “Dealing with household waste is costly, which is why a number of our neighbouring authorities have already banned residents from outside their areas using their HWRCs.

"This is not our intention in Hampshire – instead, a charge of £5 per visit for non-Hampshire residents will be introduced from August to offset the £500,000 annual cost of dealing with waste from non-Hampshire residents visiting our sites.

"We need to look carefully at all our costs and see where we can make savings - the financial pressures faced by local authorities were already considerable due to growing demand for council services and reduced funding from Government, and we now need to meet the challenges of unplanned costs and lost income due to the pandemic. I believe this is a fair and practical way to help with that.”

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The e-permit scheme was originally idue to start on April 1 but HWRCs were closed at the end of March due to Covid-19.