Recycling collectors in the area usually pick up from alleys at the rear of houses. But people in properties where the lanes are too narrow for the wagons are supposed to put their bins out the front. And residents in seven of these streets, in Darlington, County Durham, have been sent legal notices warning they could be fined £1,000 unless they follow the rules. They will also be guilty of “an offence” if the refuse team discover lids are not fully closed.
Deputy borough council leader Jonathan Dulston also admitted the council is trying to identify offenders, using “numerous covert and overt mobile CCTV cameras”.
He said: “People say they’ve never seen the town as clean as it is now. They expect us to take a tough approach.”
But fellow councillor Cyndi Hughes said the notices are “officious and threatening”.
She said: “They have caused upset, anger and bewilderment to many law-abiding, refuse and recycling compliant residents. The vast majority abide by the rules. People are genuinely worried they will be fined for something they are not even aware they are doing.
“Enforcement should be taken against those who break the rules – not the compliant.”
But Mr Dulston said the council had been bombarded with complaints about waste in the area – and in particular in back lanes – in recent months.
He added: “The fact that we have issued notices to seven streets gives an idea of the level of issue we have. But it is extremely difficult to put cameras in every single back lane.”
Larger recycling wagons have three compartments – for paper, card and glass. The council has warned residents: “If access to the rear lane is difficult for our wagons we will let you know. In this case put your recycling at the front of your property.”