Hybrid System to be Trialled at Redcloak

By Jane Cruickshank / November 8, 2022
Stonehaven Council offices

AFTER a close vote by our councillors this morning, Stonehaven residents will soon have unrestricted access to the household recycling centre on Wednesdays and Saturdays – but will still need to make an online booking for other days of the week.

The Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee voted seven to five in favour of a trial of the hybrid system at Redcloak and other sites in the area. It will be in place from Monday November 28 until July 28, 2023.

The booking system was put in place when recycling sites reopened following Covid closures in March 2020. Gates using automatic number plate recognition followed in the November, then in April 2021 system limiting access for vans and trailers (commercial type vehicles) was introduced.

Pros and cons of booking system

While helping space out visits to centres such as Redcloak, the booking system has reduced the amount of trade waste being illegally dumped – waste the local authority then has to pay to dispose of. In the past year. In 2021/22 Aberdeenshire Council recorded savings to the tune of £700,000. Fly-tipping is not thought to have significantly increased as a result.

Meanwhile a survey of 4,000 users last Autumn found 38.5% of users were unhappy with the booking system, citing online access problems, difficulty in finding a slot and overly restrictive limits on commercial vehicle types.

Free access versus cost savings

Since January, access arrangements across the Shire have been reviewed.

At today’s meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee, councillors were asked to consider three options for a trial period: retain the full booking system, implement a hybrid system, or remove the booking system entirely.

Cllr George Carr was quick to note the feedback he had from constituents who wanted to see things ‘go back to normal’. Mr Carr said those who were not computer literate had problems, and he said farmers were having a problem with fly-tipping. Mr Carr proposed a return to free access to the sites – this was quickly seconded by Cllr Wendy Agnew.

Cllr Alan Turner noted that a return to free access was already agreed for other areas of the Shire. He said he felt a trial of a hybrid system was ‘virtually useless’.

”All that will happen with a hybrid system is that people will focus on Wednesdays and Saturdays,” he said.

Mrs Agnew said: ”There will be traffic queues on Slug Road on a Wednesday and Saturday.”

She added: ”People want freedom and I cannot go against the people I represent.”

But other Councillors felt the budget impacts of removing the booking system should be considered. Cllr Dawn Black said she was concerned funding received for the entry barriers might have to be returned if they were not used – and she noted the cost to the local authority of disposing of trade waste.

Proclaiming her dislike of having to look at budgets, Cllr Dickinson said: ”We are under enormous pressure. Money that is spent here is money that cannot be spent elsewhere.”

She said: ”It is a relatively small inconvenience having to book online. I feel the hybrid model is a good solution.”