Calls for Portsmouth's tip booking system to be scrapped branded 'a waste of time'

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Opposition councillors who called for the booking system at Port Solent’s tip to be scrapped have been accused by Portsmouth City Council’s Lib Dem administration of wasting an ‘enormous’ amount of time.

Discussing the results of the consultation that found most people supported the requirement to book timeslots, members of the council’s cabinet accused opponents of playing political games.

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However, an amendment from Portsmouth Independents’ leader George Madgwick required the survey of Port Solent residents to be carried out before a final decision was made.

Queues of cars as Port Solent tip reopened after the first lockdown on May 11, 2020 
Picture: Habibur RahmanQueues of cars as Port Solent tip reopened after the first lockdown on May 11, 2020 
Picture: Habibur Rahman
Queues of cars as Port Solent tip reopened after the first lockdown on May 11, 2020 Picture: Habibur Rahman

This found that 60 per cent of people living closest to the tip opposed the system’s scrapping and Cllr Madgwick has said he now supports this position, despite personally favouring it being removed.

These findings were discussed by the council’s cabinet, which supports the system remaining and voted against the motion, when it met on Tuesday.

Councillor Kimberly Barrett, the cabinet member for environment, said the survey backed anecdotal evidence that the public supported the booking system.

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‘It’s a really good thing,’ she said. ‘This survey shows people still support the booking system and long may it continue.’

However, councillor Steve Pitt criticised opposition groups for adding extra workload to the already stretched waste services department when the administration had already agreed an indefinite extension to its use.

‘Everyone at full council took this as a great opportunity to throw rocks at the administration and say we’ve done the wrong thing, that we weren’t listening to residents when it was abundantly clear that this was properly supported and was having the right outcomes,’ he said.

‘We’re here today because opposition members decided this was a great thing to throw potshots at the council. None of them are here and I hope I’m wrong in my assumption that none of them have bothered to apologise to the officers for the enormous waste of time this has created.’

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Although not required under the motion, cabinet members unanimously agreed to refer the survey’s findings for consideration at a future meeting of the full council.

Cllr Madgwick defended the decision to request the consultation.

‘The survey was vital,’ he said. ‘The tip is a hot topic in Port Solent and we shouldn’t be doing anything without getting the views of residents. I was elected to represent them and that’s what I do.

‘The results of the survey did find 40 per cent of people wanted to get rid of it, so it’s clearly not as popular as the administration is making out. It certainly wasn’t a waste of time.’

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Conservative councillor Matthew Atkins, who proposed the original motion, said the Lib Dems were ‘twisting facts to suit themselves and not the residents’.

‘The survey was designed to gauge views of residents local to the tip to protect them from possible traffic disruption if the booking system is replaced,’ he said. ‘It does not represent the views of the whole city on whether booking is a good thing. Even the results of the survey itself show 40 per cent of residents nearest the tip would like access without booking.

‘In the council chamber I called for a sensible compromise with some booked slots and some unbooked drop-in times. This administration seems to lack the ability or imagination to get even basic improvements like that done.’

Just under 200 responses were given to the survey which was targeted at the 700 homes and businesses closest to the tip.