Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, Fife Council introduced a mandatory reservations tool for accessing tips in order to prevent queues and crowding.
Fifers must complete a five-step booking process, declaring the type of waste they want to dispose of and the type of vehicle they have as well as personal details before they can make the trip. The system accepts reservations up to a week in advance.
However, Conservative councillor Mino Manekshaw says the system has outlived its usefulness as the threat of Covid dies down – and has suggested that its demand for what he saw as an unnecessary amount of personal information may have led to a rise in flytipping in recent months.
“I understand full well why the booking system was brought in at the end of the first lockdown period in early 2020,” he said.
“It is true that the booking system has served us well. But I now put it to you that the need for the booking system has now passed and that any lingering benefit we may have from retaining it is heavily outweighed by the cost that Fife Council and landowners – including our hard-pressed farm communities – face in having to collect and then dispose of [waste].”
Fife’s Labour-SNP administration says it is already reviewing the use of the booking system. It has called a special meeting in June to discuss next steps.
Cllr Ross Vettraino, environment convener, said: “Officers are aware of the concern that is expressed about the measures that have been put in place to protect both staff and members of the public.
“There is no doubt that the concern currently being expressed in Fife about the booking system must be addressed – which is why officers are reviewing the entire situation in consultation with the users of the centres.”
The administration’s amendment – proposing the June meeting – won out against the Conservative’s motion and another amendment by the Liberal Democrats to promote the use of active travel when visiting recycling sites.
However, the Tories are claiming victory, saying they “forced” the administration into a rethink.
Group leader and Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor Dave Dempsey said: “While it made sense to control access to recycling centres in the early stages of the pandemic, we’ve moved on a long way.
“Fifers can now drive into Perth & Kinross Centres but they still have to book days or even weeks in advance to dump their rubbish locally.
“Fly tipping has increased significantly, to the annoyance of all. Worse than that, rubbish fly tipped on private land is a cost to the landowner. Our farmers don’t deserve that. They have enough to contend with.
“We proposed at today’s Council meeting that this be looked at urgently. The SNP/Labour Administration responded by conjuring up a special meeting next month to look at this. That’s not ideal – it could go now – but it’s progress.”
The Conservatives have been vocal in their opposition to what they see as unnecessary complication of some of Fife Council’s online systems.
Last month, Cllr Dempsey criticised the integration of the Scottish Government’s mygov.scot myaccount system into Fife’s pothole reporting facility, which requires locals to create an account loaded with personal info before they can report faults in the road.
He said the need to register and provide a wealth of details before being able to log requests had made such simple appeals “complicated” or “impossible”.
Jon Brady, Local Democracy Reporting Service
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