Renewed plea for waste and recycling sites to be reopened

Margate recycling centre

A renewed plea to open at least one recycling site for Thanet residents to be able to dispose of bulky waste has been made to county council and the government.

Ramsgate resident Ruth Knall has launched a petition to government calling for tip sites to be reopened.

Recycling centres across the country were closed on March 23 in line with social distancing guidance issued to flatten the spread of coronavirus.

The petition is currently being checked to make sure it meets the correct standards prior to publication.

Ruth said: “I started the petition because I keep seeing Facebook posts about fly tipping and I believe that there would be a lot less of a problem with this if the tips were open.

“People have so much free time on their hands and they are going stir crazy, so having a sort out is a great way to keep busy and distracted. Mental health is an issue in times like these and it is definitely easier if you have something to focus on.”

Her call has been backed by two of the county councillors representing Margate and Ramsgate.

Cllr Karen Constantine has written to Cllr Susan Carey, Cabinet Member for the Environment, suggesting one site could reopen if staff were combined to work together and a traffic management system is used for people queue in their cars. This would be alongside on-site hand sanitising. Cllr Constantine says this would ensure social distancing could be put into practice and residents could safely dispose of household waste.

Karen Constantine 

She said: “I’ve been contacted by several residents who are really keen to use lockdown productively. To do this they need access to a Thanet tip. I’m also acutely aware that many Thanet residents live in poorer quality accommodation without access to a garden.

“For them, the need to be able to use every square foot is paramount. So they need really need household waste facilities. We could open one of our Thanet tips using all the staff and traffic management to ensure safety and social distancing.”

In the letter she adds: “With so many people furloughed, and with work drying up, it is inevitable that people will tend to their gardens and ‘spruce up’ their homes. For people in smaller accommodation, and for those without  access to gardens, the organisation of indoor space to maximise its use is vital.

For many sorting out our home, redecorating or gardening is an extremely positive experience promoting good mental health and well-being.”

Cllr Susan Carey

Earlier this week county council Cabinet members discussed the issue of reopening recycling sites with Cllr Carey saying: “We will reopen just as soon as Government advice and staffing levels allow us to do so safely. KCC officers are working on developing plans to reopen the recycling centres once the time is right to do this, particularly considering the continued lockdown and likely high demand from residents when the sites do reopen.”

The Government published a new directive earlier this month stating the sites can remain open, providing the two metre social distancing rules can be maintained.

Cllr Carey said the sites in Kent have been hampered by staff shortages due to sickness and self-isolation. Across KCC’s 18 sites there was a surge of visits last month, rising from 10,800 daily visits to around 14,400 by March 23.

Explaining the issues, Cllr Carey said: “More people at home were taking an opportunity for a clear-out at a time when our staff numbers were hit by sickness and a need for self-isolation.”

She added: “It was proving impossible to ensure social-distancing between the people using the sites and our staff.”

KCC leader Roger Gough said the authority is looking at ways of reopening sites.

Find the petition when it goes live here