Durham County Council has spent nearly £1m on traffic management at its recycling centres over the three lockdowns.
The local authority spent £900,000 on blocking the entrance to 12 waste disposal sites across the county.
But it insists the cash won’t come from local coffers – but will eventually be claimed back from central government.
And the council says it’s working on a booking system which should ease traffic queuing and hope this is fully operational from Spring when the sites are at their busiest.
It will not avoid all traffic management costs as personnel have to verify attendees and allow safe early turn around points for those that have turned up without appointments.
The issue was first raised by Councillor Mark Wilkes back in October of last year at his local waste site at Potterhouse Lane in Pity Me – one of the busiest sites in County Durham.
Cllr Wilkes the Lib Dem Shadow Portfolio holder for Neighbourhoods and Climate Change said: “Its now 10 months since Lib Dem councillors first asked for a booking system for household waste sites.
“It is unbelievable that Labour-run Durham County Council will have spent £1 million pounds on traffic management by the time a system is in place. It is yet another example of Labour politician wasting taxpayers money.”
Lib Dem Belmont Parish Councillor Mick Watson said: “A million pounds could have been spent improving our local environment, instead it’s gone on cones, barriers and road closures. This has been a completely unacceptable and unnecessary waste of money.
“I understand that to the end of December 2020 the total costs were £903,919 this includes the sites where we started with traffic management and no longer require it.”
DCC says it’s also in the final commissioning stages of a web-based traffic light system to check how busy the waste sites are at any given time.
This should be operational in two weeks, and will benefit both short and long term users.
It will also be able to highlight other issues like wind or snow, that unavoidably create a delay and congestion.
John Shannon, Durham County Council’s strategic waste manager, said: “We have been doing everything we can to ensure our 12 fixed Household Waste Recycling Sites and one mobile site remain open to the 253,000 households in County Durham.
“We follow Covid restrictions, whilst ensuring compliance with guidance both for the safety of residents and site staff.
“We have worked with Durham Constabulary and our Highways teams to provide the safest traffic management measures for residents attending sites, driving past sites and living and working adjacent to sites.
“The costs of these measures across the 12 sites, which are approaching £1m since May 2020, will ultimately not be borne by the council as they are part of claims to Government.
“Our emphasis will remain on providing all waste services as close to normal.”