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Aberdeenshire committee agrees to maintain recycling centre booking system

By Kirsty Brown

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Aberdeenshire Council's Infrastructure Services Committee have today agreed to maintain the booking system for household waste and recycling centres.

The committee heard from Ros Baxter, who spoke through the history of the booking system and its review.

A booking system was introduced in June 2020 as a result of coronavirus restrictions, and amended in April 2021 to reduce access to commercial vehicles (as previously agreed in the 2019 Waste Strategy).

The implementation of the booking system also so the integration of automatic number plate recognition, which is directly linked with the booking system and lifts the access barrier without human involvement.

The review looked at how the booking system was used by households as well as how it could be utilised in the future, and the various waste disposal options currently available for traders.

Over 4000 participated in the review, including community groups, traders and members of the general public.

One of the main questions asked was around user satisfaction of the booking system which is in place, and the results said 43 percent were satisfied or very satisfied, 18 percent said they were ambivolent and 38 percent said that they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

Councillors commented on the results, highlighting that they were "surprising" given the perceived belief that people were unhappy with the system.

Westhill and district councillor David Aitchison commented that the dissatisfied minority should not be disregarded, however, as it is "a substantial minority...the people who are satisfied are just a slightly bigger minority".

Councillor Jim Ingram of Central Buchan ward reiterated this, saying that he was aware of people who have been 'stockpiling' significant amounts of waste and recyclables as they refuse to use the current booking system, and highlighted the importance to ensure these people who wish to recycle and use Council services were not left behind.

Chairman Peter Argylle, councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, said that it was also "interesting that traffic has decreased but the tonnage has not; this would suggest that people are going less frequently, which is a good thing and far more sustainable".

The review suggested that maintaining the booking system with some tweaks based on feedback from service users would be the best way forward.

The recommended changes include simplifying online booking, reducing the notice required to book a slot (currently at least one hour), increasing the number of vehicles and trailers that can register for a time slot and improved communication with service users.

Councillors agreed unanimously that the some changes were required but ultimately the booking system should remain.

It was also agreed that HRCs would be examined on an individual basis and discussions would continue around any customisations that could be made at each site.

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