Binmen could work 24 hours a day after Brexit
PUBLISHED: 13:50 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:50 23 May 2019
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Binmen could be dropping off rubbish at council sites 24 hours a day across Kent in a Brexit "worst-case scenario".
Kent County Council has agreed to extend the operating hours of its waste transfer centres and third-party disposal points if congestion at the Port of Dover and Channel Tunnel severely disrupts street collections when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
While it does not mean the opening hours of tips would change or planned bin collections times, it would mean workers could be dropping off household waste at all hours of the day.
Sharon Thompson, head of planning applications, explained the measures were put in place ahead of the initial departure date of March 29 - but could still be used depending on the outcome of the ongoing Brexit impasse.
She said: "It gives the county council as the waste disposal authority and district councils as waste collection authorities some flexibility in the event of the roads being so congested that the waste collection vehicles would not be able to get to the sites within the permitted hours.
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"It gives them some flexibility for a three-month period in order, subject to certain criteria, that they will be allowed to operate outside their working hours."
Facilities in Whitfield, Ashford, Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Sittingbourne, Southfleet, Maidstone, West Malling, Canterbury, Snodland and Sandwich could be affected if the contingency plans are activated.
The council report states the extent of any extensions is "not clear at this time", but goes on to say: "In a worst-case scenario, waste management activity (acceptance, receipt, building up and delivery of waste to final disposal points) could be for 24-hour use."
It is hoped the measures will ensure waste collections are still carried out in the event of disruption, and reduce the risk of waste being "left out on the streets to become a public health hazard or a nuisance".
Ms Thompson added: "I should stress it's not going to give them increased activities - it is to allow them to go into the gates if their vehicles have been held up or they haven't been able to do all their rounds.
"There was serious concern, and realistically there is still some concern regarding business continuity and that traffic could be so bad that waste collection vehicles may not be able to do all their routes in one day.
"This would only be used in the event of Brexit disruption, and any out-of-hours working would be kept to an absolute minimum."