FURIOUS residents have slammed the new booking system set up for Hampshire tips, claiming it is “not fit for purpose”.
The online and telephone set-up was brought in to prevent the huge queues which built up after the tips reopened following the lockdown, with some having to wait more than four hours to get in.
This caused tailbacks on main roads at several tips, which in the New Forest are at Efford in Pennington, Somerley near Ringwood and Marchwood.
As a result Hampshire County Council launched a booking system which, from Monday, banned access for those turning up without reservations. The service went live to make appointments last Thursday.
But there has been confusion over spaces only being released 48 hours in advance. Dates after this show as unavailable on the booking calendar – leading many to believe all slots for June had already been taken.
The A&T has received a string of complaints from people furious that all the appointments had apparently been snapped up within hours of the system going live.
Others claimed they had faced long waits on the telephone booking service before being cut off without success.
One reader said: “I am sure I am not the first, nor will be the last – but this debacle of trying to book a slot to access the tip is just off the scale.
“I feel I have more chance of winning Euromillions than getting a time.”
Others complained that even trying within the 48-hour period did not secure a spot.
Helen Clifford said: “I kept trying every half hour waiting for new appointments to be released at Efford.
“But I never managed to get one. I was kept in a queue on the phone for 17 minutes, only to get a recording saying my call could not be taken at that time.”
She had also found it impossible to book a newly released spot, saying: “We have tried numerous times to get through to the 023 number, succeeding late afternoon yesterday, only to be told that there are lots of slots released all the time and to try to ring the helpline number at 9am.
“No matter how many times we try to log on to the system there are never any slots available.”
Howard Thomas, from New Milton, complained that he had tried to get a slot for the tip at Efford but it looked like “the whole of June is greyed out”.
He said when he called the phone line he was offered an appointment at Marchwood. He said: “That is too far for me to go. To be honest I wouldn’t mind having to queue up at Efford for two to three hours but you can’t even do that now.”
Everton resident Patrick Ridley-Martin said: “It seems it’s going off half-cocked. I’ve spent ages on the website and the phone and get nowhere.”
However, Cllr Rob Humby, HCC’s cabinet member for economy, transport and environment, said he thought the system was “working well”.
He told the A&T: “It allows for more than 30,000 bookings each week. Residents are able to book one slot per week, up to 48 hours in advance and while, demand has been high, it is good to see that the lengthy and disruptive traffic queues are no longer a problem.”
Cllr Humby said the council was looking at making the online calendar clearer, adding: “I am sorry to hear of the issues you raise when people are trying to book by phone, and we will look into this.”