Wheelie Bin Roundup - The Festive Edition
It might be the festive season, but some things don’t stop over the holidays, and that includes wheelie bins making the headlines.
First, let’s go to Norfolk, where more than 3500 wheelies have been stolen over the past three years. A black market for wheelie bins appears to have developed as the wheelie bins are stolen, then householders go online to buy cheap replacements to avoid council charges.
A freedom of information request showed that between January and October 2019, over 1100 bins were stolen, up from 871 in 2017. An average wheelie costs between £20 and £40 to replace.
Many councils used to provide free replacements, but since budgets were cut a decade ago, most local authorities now charge for replacing bins. Over the last 10 years, councils in Norfolk have earned over £600,000 in fees.
Norwich City Council has earned £187,700 in replacement fees since it introduced a £40 charge back in 2016. A council spokesperson said the total included charges that property developers have to pay to buy new bins when they build a property.
Breckland Council doesn’t charge for replacement bins, but North Norfolk, South Norfolk, and Broadland councils do charge where residents have caused damage to their bin.
Great Yarmouth council has earned a tidy £52,200 in fees since 2015, but it does not charge for bins that are stolen and reported to the police.
West Norfolk council said it only charges for replacement bins if it can be proven that a resident didn’t do enough to keep their bin safe and secure from theft.
A tiny number of bin thefts are reported to the police, and it seems that residents would rather take to Facebook to try and find a cheap bin.
Next we go across the Irish Sea to Limerick, where a woman has been left in disbelief at other people using her bin without her permission. The woman, who lives in the St Joseph’s Street area of the city, woke up one day to find that no sooner had her bin been emptied by refuse collectors, other people had put their rubbish in the bin that was stood outside her door.
She complained to the council but they told her that they couldn’t intervene. She told the council that someone had dumped rubbish in her bin in broad daylight, but that she hadn’t seen the cheeky offender. The council told her that the bin is her property so they can’t get involved, but she disputed this, saying that the bin is on a public street. The council declined to comment any further.
Our next stop in the roundup is Northampton, where residents on a housing estate have complained that rats are being attracted to communal bins that are regularly left overflowing with rubbish.
Recently, the large bins at Auctioneer's Court were left overflowing with black bags. There were also black bags on the floor surrounding the bins. A mattress was also dumped.
Northampton Council cleaned the area up but residents have had enough. One resident said that people regularly fly-tip and it’s not even residents, but people who come from elsewhere. She added that she had seen people coming in cars and dumping rubbish but she has avoided confronting anyone because she has often been verbally abused when she has tried to do so.
The Housing Association in charge of managing the area said that it works with the council and its own private contractors to maintain the bin storage area. It said it always takes action when it’s informed of any problems and is willing to discuss ideas for improvements with the council and residents.
A council spokesperson said no issues had been reported to them but added that it would be looking into the matter to see whether it needed to take any enforcement action.
And finally, we go to County Durham, where it was less snakes on a plane, more snake on a wheelie bin; and a rubber snake at that!
Nevertheless, the RSPCA were alerted that a potentially abandoned deadly brown snake had been seen on top of a wheelie bin. A member of public had seen it and had put a plastic tub over it to contain it until the RSPCA could attend. When the officer attended the call, he realised that the snake was actually a fake rubber one.
The officer said that although he saw the funny side, the RSPCA do get called out to a lot of cases of snake abandonment, usually because owners buy them and don’t realise how much care and commitment it takes to keep them as a pet.
He added that the description the caller gave had sounded like the snake could have been a cobra and that they were lucky it wasn’t a cobra as they can be very dangerous.