An angry Sunderland resident has hit out after being asked to pay a £25 charge for a stolen wheelie bin.
It comes as the council defended the decision in the face of a ‘dire’ financial situation - and revealed that it has spent more than £200,000 replacing 10,000 bins over the last 12 months.
I feel let down because this is what I pay my council tax forDavid Jackson
David Jackson was left fuming when his bin was stolen from outside his home in Millfield and he was told he would have to pay for a new one.
The 40-year-old financial advisor, from Milburn Street, said he put his bin out on the morning for collection, but it wasn’t there when he returned from work.
He said: “I couldn’t believe I was being charged to replace it. If I had done something deliberately to damage it or had just left it out all the time then I would be accountable, but when it has been stolen, then I don’t think I should be punished.
“I feel let down because this is what I pay my council tax for.
“We want to live in a clean city and for that people need to have bins.”
Coun Michael Mordey, Cabinet Member for City Services, said: “In the last 12 months the council have replaced approximately 10,000 wheelie bins at a cost of over £200,000. The number hovers steadily around this figure every year.
“Unfortunately, due to the impact of seven years of Lib Dem and Tory austerity, there is just not the resources available in the service budget to absorb a spend of over £200,000 each year on replacement bins; without significantly cutting other areas of the service. Areas which themselves have seen significant cuts in recent years.
“This is a decision that has not been taken lightly and if the financial situation wasn’t as dire as it was it wouldn’t have been implemented.”
“This decision adds to a long list of unpalatable decisions the council have had to ask the public to bear, that wouldn’t have even been contemplated, if central Government had not insisted on its policy of extreme austerity for the last seven years.”
However, Coun Niall Hodson, who represents Millfield and Thornholme, said residents are right to be angry about being told they have to pay a replacement charge, regardless of whether bins have been stolen, set alight, or destroyed by the bin lorry.
He said: “It is completely unfair that people should have to foot the bill for something that isn’t their fault, and particularly galling that this charge has been introduced despite the Council failing to get a grip on the longstanding problems of bin fires and bins falling into the bin lorries.
“As a local councillor, I have been contacted by a number of residents, including pensioners, who are struggling to pay – it is quite outrageous that they are being asked to do so in these circumstances.”