A crackdown on Sunderland residents failing to put bins out correctly will take an “education first” approach, a council boss has pledged.
This month, Sunderland City Council’s (SCC) cabinet endorsed a three-year Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which includes new powers to tackle littering in the city.
The changes aim to tackle issues of side waste in city backlanes which can lead to spillages and extra pressure on council services.
Deputy leader of SCC, Michael Mordey, has stressed the council would take an “education first” approach with fines only being used as a last resort.
“There are still some people in the city who refuse point blank to use a wheelie bin,” he said.
“We understand that people want to live in a clean green city and we all have rights but we also have responsibilities.
“We really shouldn’t need to be coming round cleaning up after people who have bins who just refuse to use them.
“They have a responsibility to their neighbours.
“The whole point of the order is not to be walking down back lanes to inspect peoples wheelie bins.
“The PSPO is effectively the last stop after we have went down a whole avenue of other measures including informal conversations with the residents.”
The section 46 notice – served under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) – would be decided on a case by case for each household.
While resource issues prevent SCC from inspecting the contents of recycling bins under the act, the fines aim to change the behaviour of persistent offenders.
“We have seen millions of pounds cut from the street cleansing budget since 2010 and the staff that are left are absolutely working their fingers to the bone and doing a fantastic job,” Coun Mordey added.
“All we’re saying as a council is please help us help you by presenting your waste in your wheelie bin and then there will be no issues whatsoever.
“If people are struggling we can offer assistance.
“The enforcement always comes after education. It’s not about generating income, it’s about cleaning the streets and having an appropriate deterrent.
“That’s always been the case with enforcement in Sunderland. We have always been an ‘education-first authority”.
SCC recently benefitted from a boost to their environmental services team with six enforcement officers and four fly-tipping investigation officers taking up posts.
For more information on the PSPO, visit: www.sunderland.gov.uk
The new rules come as the Echo continues its Clean Streets campaign, launched last year, in response to demands from Sunderland residents for a tidier city.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service