Council refuses to scrap bin charges after calls to end Â£25 replacement fee in Sunderland
Sunderland City Council has said it cannot afford to stop charging residents for replacement bins when they are stolen.
The issue was raised at the latest Sunderland City Council meeting by Liberal Democrat Stephen O’Brien, who called on the local authority to scrap the charge for replacement bins which are stolen or damaged.
Currently, residents must pay £25 for a new bin if they are lost, stolen or damaged beyond repair.
The guidance stated on the council’s website said: “If a bin is lost, stolen or damaged beyond a repair a charge of £25 will apply for delivery of a new wheelie bin.
“Make sure your bin is only left out for the collection day and brought back in after it has been emptied.
“Any bins damaged by the council during the collection process will be replaced free of charge.”
At the meeting, Coun O’Brien said: “Lots of residents feel that the council’s policy of charging to replacement bins - even when they have been stolen, burnt or fallen into the bin lorry - is unfair.
“It is undoubtedly contributing to the citywide problem of rubbish being left in lanes.
“Will the Cabinet look to reverse this policy?”
But the request was shot down by Labour’s Michael Mordey, who is responsible for City Services, saying that the council simply cannot afford to scrap the charges.
Coun Mordey said: “Residents are not charged for a replacement bin when it falls into a wagon or is damaged by the council.
“The decision to start charging for wheelie bins was made in 2013 and who was in power in 2013? The Lib Dems.
“We were promised by the Lib Dems and by the Conservatives that austerity would be over by 2015.
“It wasn’t, and so we have been forced down the line into introducing a charge for bins.
“And at this moment in time the council is unable financially to reverse this policy.”
At the same meeting, the issue of the council’s response to flytipping was raised by Lib Dem councillor Niall Hodson, who represents Millfield.
He said: “Many residents in my ward are concerned that the council’s cleaning of streets and removals of flytipping is getting slower and slower.
“Can the Portfolio Holder for City Services reassure them that the proposed £1.5 million boost to environmental services will address this problem?”
Coun Mordey said: “Since the initial cut to frontline services in June 2016 the response times to flytipping are steadily increasing to effectively work now, on what the flytipping response is within, give or take, 24 hours.”
Referring to the extra £1.5m for supporting environmental services such as street cleaning, which was announced in the Council’s 2018/2019 Budget proposals, Coun Mordey said plans were bring drawn up and should be ready by April.
He said plans will look at putting the likes of front line staff and litter pickers back out into the communities.
He said: “Proposals in relation to the £1.5m for environmental services are still being drawn up.
“We are looking at a number of options, but our two priority areas are putting extra resources back in to enforcement and then getting as many boots on the ground in our communities and front line staff.”