Council clarifies whether staff at Lancashire household waste recycling centres can help visitors to unload their cars

Lancashire County Council has reassured users of its household waste recycling centres that staff are still on hand to help them get rubbish out of their vehicles and into the skips.

It comes after confusion was caused by out-of-date signs which suggested that people having a clear-out would have to cope with emptying potentially car-loads of waste on their own.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) was contacted by a visitor who took a trip to the tip in Chorley last month and was given much need-needed assistance by a staff member. But when returned a few weeks later, he was confronted with a notice indicating that the support he had received was no longer on offer.

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The foldaway sign, which was on display with others detailing the rules of the recycling centre, read: “Staff will not be able to assist you with your waste”.

A sign at the Chorley household waste recycling centre caused confusion
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The man, who lives in Adlington, but did not want to be named, said: "I was puzzled when I first saw it. I hadn't needed to ask the staff for help [on that occasion], but only a few weeks ago, one of their staff helped me with a double mattress.

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“The guys [at the centres] concentrate on the women and elderly. My missus was always happy to go on her own, because someone would leg it across [to help].

“But if this means they can't help at all now, it could make life difficult for women on their own, old people and people with disabilities,” he added.

However, County Hall has told the LDRS that the sign at the Chorley centre dated back to the early days of the pandemic and had been put out by mistake. A spokesperson said that the authority would be rounding up similar examples from all 16 of its facilities across Lancashire in order to ensure that the same confusion was not inadvertently being sewn elsewhere.

When the waste recycling centres initially reopened after being forced to close their doors for six weeks at the start of the first lockdown, Covid precautions meant that strict social distancing was in place and staff were not permitted to get close enough to members of the public to help them with their bulkier and heavier items, as they always had done in the past.

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That rule has since been relaxed, but it seems some of the signs have remained - until now.

The spokesperson added: "We know how much people really value the help of our recycling centre staff if they need a hand lifting something into a skip - and it's an important part of the service we offer.

"These signs were produced due to the need for social distancing during the pandemic, but should not be displayed now. We will check with all our recycling sites that any out-of-date signs are no longer being used."