A report has revealed that long queues outside Hemel Hempstead’s dump have been made worse by cuts in opening hours.
This is despite Herts County Council telling the Gazette just three months ago that frustrating queues at the Eastman Way site were not caused by the slashed hours.
A report presented to the council’s resources and performance cabinet panel this month said: “Levels of use and demand of the Herts Waste Recycling Center network are traditionally seasonal with severe peaks from Easter through to the end of August.
“This year has been no exception, with high levels of demand resulting in queueing at certain times an centres, with sites having to shut early or operate a reduced service.
“It appears that the reduction in opening days and hours may have exacerbated these issues at some of the busier centres, with a resulting increase in numbers of complaints.”
The changes will now be reviewed at a waste management meeting in October.
“In the meantime, officers are working closely with the contractor to try and mitigate negative impacts and implement improvements,” the report said.
From the start of the year the dump has been open five days a week rather than seven.
The hours of operation were also reduced by two hours a day during the summer.
It was decided to close all of the county’s 17 waste recycling centres two days a week to save £6million over the next eight years.
Councillor Richard Thake, who oversees waste management, said: “At a small number of the busiest sites at peak times in peak season queues are inevitable, as they have been in previous years, although I do recognise that the reduction in hours may be a contributing factor to these pressures at these specific times.”
He said the reduced hours are necessary to meet shrinking budgets, adding: “In all of the extensive press coverage of this matter, it seems to have been forgotten that we did not close a single site, but kept all of them operating, albeit on a reduced number of days.
“Hertfordshire waste recycling centres are open between 10am-6pm, five days a week, and that includes the weekends. I believe this still provides a very good service for residents.
“This is not the case elsewhere around the country where frequently residents have to drive several miles to use a waste centre as their local one has closed.”
Hemel Hempstead’s site is open on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm during the summer and 8am-4pm uring the winter.
For opening times of other sites visit www.hertsdirect.org/wasteaware