Council members and officers are working hard to identify how community recycling centres (CRCs) can be safely opened in line with national social distancing guidance.
Cllr Bowden said: “We took the decision to close our CRCs early in the pandemic lockdown to ensure the safety of our residents and staff. We initially tried to keep the sites open, but the sheer volume of customers and vehicles coming to the sites posed a real health and safety risk.
“The decision to close our CRCs was also taken in line with the government’s assessment at the time that visiting CRCs was not classed as essential travel.
“The recent announcement by government – that it expects CRCs to open again in the coming weeks – is something we’re absolutely committed to doing, but we need to ensure that reopening our CRCs is safe and well-managed. The subsequent change in national guidance about CRCs requires a lot of preparation, which we’re working through – it’s unfortunately not as simple as just opening the doors again. We need to implement widespread measures to ensure that people coming to the CRCs can do so in the knowledge that we’re doing all we can to protect them.
“I want to reassure residents that we’re working hard to prepare for the reopening of our CRCs and that we will hopefully be able to offer a further update about their reopening soon.
“I’d also like to thank our staff who have been working extremely hard to continue collecting all three streams of household waste, which has eased the demand for CRCs considerably. Not all councils have been able to make the commitment of keeping up all kerbside collections, and the support that front line teams have been shown by residents across our town has been humbling.
“Our residents have been brilliant so far at staying at home, supporting the NHS and, importantly, helping to save lives. I know it’s been a difficult time for so many of us, and I want you to know that the council is working around the clock to support you – particularly our most vulnerable.”
Cabinet member for environment and public protection, Cllr Judith Guthrie, added: “We are grateful for the patience of so many of our residents while we work through how we can safely reopen our CRCs following the updated national guidance.
“I would, however, like to remind people that fly-tipping is a far from reasonable response to the CRCs remaining currently closed, and diverts precious resource away from officers who are doing everything they can to support residents during the coronavirus pandemic. The vast majority of our residents wouldn’t consider this a realistic option, but sadly, a small minority do.
“Thank you for your understanding and thank you for doing your bit to limit the spread of this indiscriminate virus. We don’t know how long the national restrictions will be in place but please be assured we’re doing everything possible to reopen our CRCs as soon as is practical and, critically, safe.”