Hampshire county council will this week (2 December) vote on whether to run a trial to reinstate pedestrian access at its household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs).
This comes amid suggestions the restrictions “discriminate against the elderly and hinder recycling”.
In a document set to go before the council’s Economy, Transport and Environment committee on Wednesday, it is proposed that a three-month trail should be implemented at Hampshire’s New Alresford HWRC from mid-January.
This would “re-evaluate the impact of facilitating pedestrian and cyclist access on a controlled basis”.
Access to the HWRCs has been restricted to vehicles since the reopening of the sites in May to enforce social distancing measures.
However the report said that is hasn’t proved to be a “significant issue”, with only 12 enquiries received on the issue out of a total of 2,000.
A deputation made by residents at a meeting on 24 September requested the council reviews its position and reconsider pedestrian access, on the grounds of “discrimination and effects to climate change”.
The deputation said that restriction to pedestrians could discriminate against the elderly, those with disabilities, and low-income families, as well as encouraging car use, which “hinders efforts to tackle climate change”.
And, it suggested that the restriction of access on foot had “stifled recycling opportunities” as well as feeling an increase in small domestic fly-tipping incidents.
According to the report, an evaluation of the issue concludes that the current pre-booking system in place at all Hampshire HWRCs “lends itself to the three month trial, whereby a period of time could be blocked off to vehicle users, in order to enable pedestrians and cyclists to enter more safely”.
Under the proposed trial, designated half hour pre-booked slots will be made available on up to three mornings per week to facilitate access to the site by pedestrians and cyclists, while
simultaneously restricting vehicle access during that period.
A review of operational and safety impacts during that period will be undertaken, including
monitoring the relative popularity of the trial, and any issues that arise.
Health and Safety
The report, however, outlined that prior to the pandemic, pedestrian access was “strongly
“Pedestrian access was only accepted at the customer’s own risk”
discouraged” as Hampshire HWRCs are not designed with separate pedestrian access in mind.
“It was made clear through onsite signage that this was only accepted at the customer’s own risk,” the report added.
The document highlights a number of health and safety issues associated with on- foot access at its sites, outlining how occasional accidents, including somebody being struck by a reversing vehicle, has occurred in the past.
The council notes that there is a potentially “unacceptable risk” to this practice, including a hazard of distraction in such a situation when carrying bulky and/or heavy items.
It added that the Health and Safety Executive does not look favourably on ‘mixing traffic and pedestrians’ for safety reasons.
Visitors to the sites on foot have also “historically” faced accusations of que jumping while staff have also observed some customers using it as a means to avoid the permit scheme or paying trade waste charges.
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Source: letsrecycle.com Waste Managment