Bizarre reason council workers wouldn't let this man take rubbish to the tip

Sarah Coles
John Bromley
John Bromley

John Bromley was stunned when council workers turned him away from a recycling centre. The 60-year-old had taken a few bags of rubbish to the tip, but was informed he wasn't allowed in, because he didn't have a car.

The Canterbury Times reported that supermarket checkout operator John had wheeled his bin half a mile to the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Canterbury, Kent. He had been unhappy about leaving it outside his home for a fortnight, and decided to take matters into his own hands.

He had done the same thing whenever rubbish bags had started piling up, but in this case, on arrival, he was told it wasn't safe for him to go any further, because there was no pedestrian access to the tip.

He pointed out there were pedestrian walkways, but was told they were for staff only, and employees told him he should hire a car to take his rubbish in.

A spokesman for Kent County Council, which runs the recycling centre, told the Mirror that 'pedestrian walkways' at the tip were for 'staff only'. He said: "We have a duty to make sure our centres are safe for the public to move around. This means we do not permit pedestrians to walk into sites as there are no designated footpaths into the centres, they are for authorised personnel only. Because there is no safe walk-in access, the public would have to walk in the path of traffic whilst bringing in their waste."

Not alone

This isn't an unusual set-up. At many recycling centres around the country, pedestrians are not allowed access 'for safety reasons'. This tends to be where there are no pavements, which means they'd have to share the road with vehicles.

Oxfordshire council says: "We have a duty to make sure that our recycling centres are run in a safe manner and to protect the welfare of all customers. For pedestrians' own safety we cannot permit them to walk into sites as there is no designated footpath or safe walkway, so they would be crossing the path of traffic whilst carrying waste."

However, it also accepts: "We can appreciate there are some items which cannot be accepted in your kerbside collection service, or if you live locally and can walk to a site you feel you are not contributing to vehicle emissions, but unfortunately the safety of site users is our priority."

They do allow cyclists - because they are going with the flow of traffic rather than crossing it - but quite how you get a wheelie bin on a bicycle is another matter.

As a result, this isn't the first time that this kind of thing has hit the headlines. Back in 2009 a couple from Bournemouth who were trying to be 'doubly green' took their rubbish the 400 yards to the recycling centre, and were told they had to pop home for the car.

But why?

The only question is why it's so difficult to provide pedestrian access. It wasn't considered necessary when most of these centres were set up, because rubbish collections were more frequent, so people only tended to visit the centres when they had a large item to drop off - which required a car.

There are, however, plenty of other centres that have managed to rustle up a pavement, and as a result, provide a service to those who do not drive, or who are trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Councils can argue that this comes at a cost - and isn't considered a priority at a time of cuts - but there are other solutions that don't have to cost the earth.

Some centres - such as in Kingston - put a mini recycling centre just inside the entrance, for pedestrians and cyclists; while some (such as in South Gloucestershire) allow pedestrians to make an appointment to drop rubbish off with a member of staff outside the gates.

It doesn't seem insurmountably difficult when councils focus a little more on providing a service and a little less on covering their backs.

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