Council set to inspect brown bins to close loophole

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Council officers in St Helens could inspect residents’ brown bins to ensure they are not using them for garden waste in a bid to avoid proposed green recycling charges.

St Helens Council’s cabinet will tomorrow night (Wednesday) consider plans to charge households up to £35 to take away green waste.

When the scheme was first floated, many suggested they would refuse to pay and instead use brown bins to get rid of their waste.

But town hall say that if the green policy is introduced they will also prohibit brown bin misuse.

Paul Sanderson, strategic director of environmental and trading services, said: “It is recommended that a policy prohibiting the placing of garden waste into the brown residual bin should be introduced alongside any charge for separate garden waste collections.”

The council predicts that only 25 per cent of households will agree to pay for the green bin collection service and they are concerned that the other 75 per cent of households will simply place garden waste inside their free brown bins to avoid paying the £35 annual fee, the report states.

Mr Sanderson added: “The main risk in respect of charging for garden waste collections is public reaction as residents won’t want to pay for a service that has previously been delivered free.

“The impact of this behaviour could see an increase in fly tipped waste and or garden waste being included within the black bin.”

The report does not elaborate on how this measure would be enforced but other local authorities that have introduced the green-bin charge, such as West Lancashire Borough Council and Warrington Council, have employed enforcement officers that are tasked with routinely checking people’s brown bins for garden waste.

Households that do not agree to the new service fee will be easily identifiable to authorities because of the absence of a licence sticker that is issued to fee-payers and attached to their green bins.

The enforcement of the prohibition on green-waste in brown bins may take the form of spot checks without the knowledge or permission of the householder and fines may be issued against those who flout the new rules.

Other local authorities have attached brightly coloured tags to ‘polluted’ bins to publicly shame householders before taking further action with repeat offenders.

It is expected that more details will emerge on Wednesday when the bin monitoring proposal will be discussed at the Cabinet meeting.