LitterAfter all the self-promoting press releases from Herts County Council over many years, finally an admission of failure, over the queues and early closing of Household Waste sites (‘the tips’).

A report to yesterday’s Resources and Performance Cabinet panel states: ‘High levels of demand resulting in queuing at certain times and 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’.

Malcolm Cowan, a Liberal Democrat County Councillor who was at the meeting says: ‘This is exactly what we predicted when the plan to reduce the days of opening were being discussed. The chickens have come home to roost. By insisting on only opening 5 days per week, the same demand has been compressed, so that many centres are having problems. There are also reports of increased fly-tipping as people are turned away.

‘I myself was warned at one site, that despite having arrived with half an hour to spare, if I did not get to the front of the queue before closing time, I would be turned away. Imagine if a bank or shop said that to its customers.

‘A fuller report will be going to a Community Safety and Waste management panel meeting in October; we are demanding that there will be clear plans at that meeting to stop this chaos and restore a service that meets residents’ needs. Many products and materials can only be recycled at these centres – local councils’ collection services do not handle them. So if we want to extend recycling, these tips must be open.