Issue details

21/00123 - Booking to visit a Household Waste Recycling Centre

Proposed decisions:

To continue to operate a booking system for customers to access all of Kent County Council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres

 

For the Corporate Director for Growth, Environment and Transport to keep progress of the booking system under continuous review and to inherit the main delegations via the Officer Scheme of Delegation to make any further operational changes to the booking system to maximise customer service.

 

Background:

After a period of temporary closure to adhere to the government’s Covid-19 restrictions, Kent County Council (KCC) re-opened the Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) on 15 May 2020 and used a booking system to safely manage access.

 

Whilst the booking system was introduced to help manage demand at the HWRCs in response to social distancing and revised workplace rules, it has provided operational benefit and received positive customer feedback.

 

A public consultation was undertaken to gain views from the public and stakeholders on its future use. This exercise did not highlight any new information that would support a withdrawal of the booking system.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic remains a risk to both operational staff and the public. The system allows demand to be safely managed irrespective of any Covid restrictions which also providing on-going operational benefit to the service.

 

Following its inception, the system has evolved and adapted to customer and operator/contractor feedback. The consultation has highlighted ‘on the day’ booking and further integration with other operational systems further modifications for the system to address.

 

These both seek to further enhance the customer experience and to make the service more efficient and effective.

 

Other options considered but rejected:

  1. Return to access to the HWRCs without the requirement to book
  2. Implement a hybrid booking system

 

How the proposed decision meets the priority actions of Setting the Course: Kent County Council’s Interim Strategic Plan (December 2020)

The continued use of the HWRC booking system will meet the following priority actions:

  • Deliver a balanced budget and develop a sustainable medium-term financial plan
  • Use technology to improve efficiency and reduce cost
  • Develop a stronger evidence-based approach to managing demand
  • Deliver net-zero for Kent by 2050 and promote climate resilience

 

Financial Implications:

The contracted operators will be able to reduce overhead costs by £150k pa as the demand at the sites is better managed. These savings are included with in the Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP); this saving is wholly associated with this policy proposal.

 

By operating the booking system in 20/21 there has been a change in public behaviour and communities seek to re-use items before planning a visit to sites. There has been less cross border usage and an increased use of skip hire.

Site operatives have had more time to assist customers in sorting and maximise levels of recycling. The public has made more use of the districts chargeable bulky collection services. This has reduced volumes of waste processed, whilst increasing recycling. A budget target was set within the current year to deliver efficiencies by the Waste Disposal Authority of £1.3m.

 

The cost of operating the current booking system is £21,000 per year including licence, software, set up and provider support. There was an additional cost of £25,000 to cover the increased calls to KCC’s Contact Centre to answer Waste Management enquires during the pandemic and take bookings for customers unable to do so online.

 

Costs associated with the roll-out of ‘on the day’ booking are modest, these are limited to some additional connectivity requirements at some HWRCs and additional tablet devices for sites, these will be funded using existing budgets.

 

Equalities implications:

An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) was completed prior to the booking system being introduced in May 2020 and again before the consultation to ensure consideration was given to the impact of the system and the approach to consultation. The initial assessments indicated that any impact on users could be reasonably mitigated. Respondents were asked for any comments about the EqIA as part of the consultation questionnaire.

 

The EqIA was reviewed after the consultation to enable KCC to respond to any new issues that arose during the consultation and to ensure no groups were disadvantaged. In the initial screening, age, disability, and race were identified as being potentially impacted. The public consultation responses revealed some further low negative impacts to these protected characteristics and an additional impact for ‘pregnancy and maternity’ and ‘carer’s responsibilities’. These further potential impacts identified can be mitigated, including better advertising of the telephone booking service and the roll-out of the ability to be able to book ‘on the day’.

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;

Decision status: For Determination

Division affected: (All Division);

Notice of proposed decision first published: 21/12/2021

Decision due: Not before 19th Jan 2022 by Cabinet Member for Environment

Lead director: Philip Lightowler

Department: Growth, Environment & Transport

Contact: David Beaver, Head of Waste Management and Business Services Email: david.beaver@kent.gov.uk Email: david.beaver@kent.gov.uk.

Consultees

The Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee will discuss the final report on 18 January 2022.

Financial implications: Please see background information.

Legal implications: KCC is the statutory Waste Disposal Authority (WDA) for the county. There has been a duty on the WDA to provide HWRCs since the Civic Amenity Act 1967. The duty is now embodied within section 51 of the Environmental Protection act 1990. There will be no legal implications if the booking system is to be retained, as the HWRC service continues to operate, albeit with the requirement to book in advance.

Equalities implications: Please see background information.