Royston Household Waste Recycling Centre was one of eight sites closed in the county on the same day, with Herts County Council telling the Crow that the closure at 12 noon was due to a “mechanical breakdown of the compactor for both green garden and general waste”.
Claims it closed due to being full were dismissed.
The Letchworth centre also closed an hour later because it was over capacity, and at Thriplow – the closest centre to Royston, but over the county border – waste from Cambridgeshire residents only is usually accepted.
A Royston resident, who did not want to be named but who complained to the county council, said: “Why should we have to seek alternative sites? Whoever is under contract to HCC should provide a ‘service’ on the days that they are actually open.
“For one I am sick to the back teeth of putting recycling in the general waste bin as all the recycling containers are full. Not only does this defeat the government’s efforts to get us to recycle, it also pollutes the landfill area.
“Recycling at the Royston site has become something of a joke – it is little wonder that there has been a high incidence of fly-tipping throughout North Hertfordshire and it seems to me that HCC is doing little to nothing to alleviate this situation.”
County councillor Steve Jarvis, who represents Royston West and Rural, expressed concern in light of the opt-in garden waste collection that North Herts District Council is rolling out from next month.
He said: “The closures are clearly not good enough and I have asked the county council why the contractor which runs the sites allowed this to happen and what HCC plan to do about this.
“Of course NHDC says that if you don’t want to pay their brown bin tax you can take your garden waste to the dump. But you can’t do that if it is closed.”
An HCC spokeswoman confirmed the closures, adding: “The last two weekends have been the first show of improved weather for some time which led to extremely high demand and a number of centre closures as the facilities were unable to cope with the level of demand.
“This increase in site usage was also reported by our neighbouring authorities. Full resources were on hand to manage and service the sites but there are limitations in what can be delivered and it was unfortunate that some centres weren’t available to receive waste for the duration of the advertised hours. “The contracted operator Amey do plan for these peak times however, despite additional resource and their best efforts, some of our sites will always struggle with capacity due to their restricted nature.”
An Amey spokesman said: “We would like to apologise for the inconvenience this caused. Our sites are all now fully operational once again. We would always encourage the public to visit our sites during weekdays or to view the webcams on the council’s website to check how busy we are before setting off.”
The Crow asked NHDC for its views given the advice for people not paying for the brown bin collection service is to take it to the tip, but a spokeswoman said the council would not be able to comment as the centre is run by HCC.
Article from Bianca Wild from the Royston crow paper.