RESTRICTED opening hours at a Sheffield tip led to quarter-mile tailbacks outside the site as frustrated motorists queued up to enter - causing the risk of a serious road accident and delaying hospital vehicles, local residents fear.
The household waste recycling centre on Blackstock Road in Gleadless had its opening hours cut by three days a week last month because of spending cuts by Sheffield Council.
Users of the tip - and drivers wishing to travel along the road - were yesterday faced with huge traffic jams which built up before the facility opened at 10am.
The chaos comes just two weeks before fortnightly bin collections are introduced on August 13.
Sheffield Council and Veolia, which runs the centre, apologised for the disruption and said additional recycling staff had been laid on to speed up traffic.
Tom Allender, aged 68, who lives near the centre in Hemsworth, said he visited the tip and was queuing for an hour and 10 minutes.
“I thought there must have been an accident but I stuck with it, because I was going to the recycling centre,” he said.
“It’s just horrendous. Emergency vehicles didn’t have a chance of getting through and I saw three buses queueing in my rear view mirror.”
Mr Allender, a retired marketing director, said the tailback stretched as far as the John O’Gaunt pub, and that there were more than 50 cars outside the gates, including a hospital minibus carrying patients.
He added: “I was fed up with waiting but my concern was for the people not allowed to go about their day. The disruption to the whole area is a disgrace.”
Carol Knightley said she saw the long queue when she visited Graves Park in the morning with her daughter.
“It’s definitely an accident waiting to happen,” said Mrs Knightley.
“It’s on a bend, it’s very dangerous. Somebody is going to come out of their lane to overtake as somebody from the other side is coming up. People are getting frustrated with it.”
Bruce Wickstone, from Norton Lees, said he approached the tip from the direction of Hemsworth Road at around 11.40am, visiting the centre to dispose of a bag of grass cuttings.
“The queue backed up almost as far as the shops in the middle of Blackstock Road,” Mr Wickstone said.
“It was probably a quarter of a mile long. It’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s certainly the worst I’d seen it, and it’s going to get even worse when we have fortnightly bin collections.”
Another visitor to the tip said: “This is a consequence, easily foreseen, of the city council’s short-sighted policy of restricting opening from seven to four days a week. I suspect fly-tipping will already be on the increase.”
A Sheffield Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware there have been some queues at Blackstock Road and would like to apologise to our customers and the wider community for any inconvenience and disruption this may have caused.
“Given that this is the first week of the school holidays combined with the first time we’ve had any period of dry warm weather it isn’t surprising that the number of people trying to access the recycling centre is higher than usual.
“As an immediate action, we have sent additional staff up to the site to help improve speeds.”
She added: “It may be helpful to remember that all five sites across the city are open from 10am to 6pm throughout the weekend and Monday, and people who live near other sites may wish to use these instead.”
A spokeswoman for Veolia said the school holidays had led to ‘above average demand’.
“Our staff are working hard to provide support to our customers and this is helping to reduce queueing,” she said.
“For those customers who are able to plan their visit we do tend to receive fewer visitors in the afternoons during the summer period. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”