Residents in the Rochford District aren't any strangers to this as a booking system has been in place for sometime at the Castle Road recycling centre, however there have been concerns that this could have some negative effects for some residents. So what are the main issues?
Queuing on the roads around the Castle Road facility has significantly reduced with the implementation of the booking system but the most common complaint has been the lack of 'same day' bookings.
Residents have been concerned the lack of availability of booking slots could lead to increase in flytipping, so I asked Rochford District Council for 'prebooking' and 'postbooking' flytipping collection rates.
This is the number of recorded cases of flytipping across the District.
The number of cases and the financial cost however should be measured in tonnage as the council is charged on weight.
If we break down these rates we can see that over a 6 month period flytipping cases have DECREASED by 23% year on year.
Other criticisms of the system have been the 'digital first' approach which could leave residents who don't have access to the internet, unable to use the booking system. However, bookings can be made via a phone number (0345 743 0430) although I suspect that if all recycling centres adopt the booking system that capacity of the call handling will need to be increased to avoid a poor customer experience.
From my experience and feedback that I have had from residents there are two main issues. One being the 'same day' booking facility, which I have taken up with the portfolio holder at Essex County Council who has told me, "......it is my intention that same day booking and cancellation should be made available at all sites to optimise usage. This will require new software and hardware which will be commissioned if the trials are made permanent."
The other issue that remains a little tricky to solve is those residents who only have a commercial style vehicle and use it for both personal and business, after all who can afford to run two vehicles right now?
I do think in the case of Rayleigh, the booking system has been largely successful and if we can 'iron out' the remaining issues, will help with the traffic and pollution problems around this site. The evidence currently suggests that there hasn't been an increase in flytipping but I do think this will need to be monitored closely. Flytipping can be a very tricky problem to resolve if left unchecked and no amount of fines will offset the real costs.