A PENSIONER has been left stunned after he received a letter ordering him to remove his three wheelie bins from an alleyway or face court and a possible £5,000 fine – despite him having nowhere else to store the waste containers.
Last Friday Staffordshire Moorlands District Council placed letters on scores of bins in alleyways between Southbank Street, Livingstone Street and Cromwell Terrace, all in Leek.
The letters from the waste collection department said: “If this bin has not been removed and returned to private property by Friday, October 4, we will assume it has been abandoned and will arrange for it to be removed.
“Please be aware that it is an offence to store bins on the public highway in between collections, and as a result you could be liable for a fixed penalty notice to be served, which is currently £60 or £40 if paid within 10 days. If the penalty remains unpaid, the matter then proceeds to court where the maximum fine that can be imposed is £5,000.”
After receiving the letter Edwin Clowes, of Southbank Street, rang the council to ask where he should put his bins as he has no room in his small yard, which only has enough room for him to walk through.
The 69-year-old said: “I have a coal bunker and a small shed for the logs. There is simply no room for the bins.
“If they were pushed up to the back door they would block any fire escape.
“You would also have to climb over the bins each time you wanted to get out of the property.
“There is also a steep step onto the alleyway, which you can’t pull the bins down safely.
“I have lived here for 50 years and never had any problems.
“I can only recall the council sweeping the alleyway once in that 50 years, which was about six months ago.
“The cleaner moved all the bins to one side to clean half, and then moved them again to clean the remainder.
“I have contacted the council and said they would get me a smaller bin. I then said that would not fit either and would they empty it every week, to which the reply was no.
“I have also been told I might have to have sacks, but this would involve several bags and if they are stacked up I will not be able to get to the coal bunker, and they again would block the exit.
“Why did the council not come around and do a feasibility study and look at our homes and the position we are in first before sending out threatening letters which talk about court procedures and £5,000 fines?”
Mr Clowes said the council informed him he could get an ‘assisted collect’, where an operative will help someone move their bin out for collection if they cannot do it themselves.
He added: “What is the use of an assisted collection when its all about where do you put the bins.
“I have tried to explain but they did not want to know.
“The threat of a big fine is just stupid when the council has not looked at people’s situations.
“I just want to know where do I put the bins and how can they fine people when they can’t store them, but I can't get an answer?”
A spokesperson for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council said: “The council receives regular and repeated complaints from residents about the state of this alley.
“As a result of these complaints, we've written to properties on three occasions this year reminding households that their bins should be returned to their properties as soon as possible after collection in order to avoid causing an obstruction to other pavement or alley users.
“These requests have had little impact so we have now written to residents advising them that if the bins aren’t removed by Friday October 4, we will assume they are abandoned and arrange for their removal.
“This alley is a public highway and bins cannot be stored there between collections.
“Since the introduction of the first wheeled bins in Leek around 10 years ago we have provided residents with limited storage space with the option of alternative containers, and are always available to offer help and advice about waste collection services to such households.
“Anyone wanting to discuss their options with us can call us on 0345 605 3014.”