Bin bandits warning as council demands £22 for replacements

A CONTROVERSIAL "bin tax" which will see householders paying for replacement wheelie bins is set to come into force in Rotherham later this month.

From Monday, January 17, residents who need a replacement black bin will have to pay 30 – 22 for the bin itself and 8 for delivery – unless they choose to collect the bins themselves from Hellaby depot.

If residents do decide to try and save the 8 charge by picking up the bins themselves, they may also have to take time off work because the depot is only open from Monday to Friday between 9am and 2pm. Replacement recycling bins, meanwhile, will remain free of charge.

Developers and management companies of newly-built properties within Rotherham will also be hit with new charges from the same date. They will be charged 57 per property for a full set of "waste containers", which includes a 240-litre black bin, a 240-litre green bin, a blue box and a blue bag.

Coun Gerald Smith, Rotherham Council's cabinet member for regeneration and the environment, said the charge was essential because the council could not afford to continue paying for replacement bins.

He said: "It is regrettable that we are having to introduce the 22 replacement charge but if we want to continue with our range of collections and improve our recycling rate we will have to introduce this fee.

"We provided over 25,000 free replacement waste containers in 2009. This costs us a huge amount of money and it just cannot be sustained. However, if there are genuine reasons for the need for a replacement, such as being stolen, fired or damaged, then the free replacement will still apply.

"In recent years, Rotherham's residents have responded brilliantly to our recycling campaign.

"The borough now recycles 42 per cent of its household waste and we are doing everything we can to make that a more efficient and cost-effective operation, by using new multi-collection vehicles, for example.

"But we need to see recycling rate increase in order to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill."

There are about 112,000 households in Rotherham and last year the authority provided more than 25,000 replacement wheelie bins free of charge.

A council spokesman said: "This is a much higher number than other councils of the same size and cost the taxpayer over 200,000."

Although replacement black bins will be free if the old bin was stolen, people will have to provide a police incident number to prove this was the case. Critics of the scheme say this will lead to more work for an already overstretched police force.

Replacement bins will also be free if they are set alight by arsonists or damaged by bin crews during collections.

Coun John Gilding, leader of the opposition Conservative group on Rotherham Council, said it was unfair to charge taxpayers for what should be a standard service.

He said: "This is going to send the crime figures rocketing up if people start having to phone the police about wheelie bins. The police have got better things to do than go around looking for wheelie bin bandits.

"If the bins are damaged people are going to have to prove they were damaged by the council during collections. How can they do that?

"It's so petty. Once the council starts passing things like that they've gone one step too far."

He added that the charges for housing developers could lead to additional costs for those buying new homes, and said: "If they're going to start charging developers for bins, that charge will be passed on to the purchaser of that property, who will be charged for using a council service."

Other authorities already charging for replacement bins include councils in Bolton, Burnley, Cambridge, Harrogate, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Solihull and Woking.