COUNCIL workers are searching through bin bags for torn-up addresses and slapping fines on people who they say put out too much rubbish.
During the past three weeks Cheshire West and Chester Council has patrolled the streets of Chester, knocking on more than 350 doors in an attempt to ‘educate’ people about putting out their rubbish.
But, with CWaC searching bin bags for torn-up addresses to pinpoint ‘offenders’ and targeting multiple-occupier households in Hoole and the Garden Quarter, residents are outraged they are being made to feel like criminals for putting out their often uncollected rubbish.
One Hoole resident, who does not wish to be named, was fined £50 after CWaC searched three bags and pieced together a torn-up address, before targeting her personally despite the rubbish also belonging to her three housemates.
“They left the bags and put tape over it saying it had been searched for evidence,” she said, adding she had been fined £50 for putting it in the ‘wrong place’. “It is really worrying the letter didn’t say if I would be fined or what was going to happen. The rubbish is from four people but they found my name and targeted me.”
The Chronicle Facebook page has been flooded with comments from city residents who have been contacted and fined for leaving out their rubbish, some of which was left out after not being collected for days.
But the council, which admits searching through rubbish for personal details, insists it is simply trying to ‘educate’ people and reduce the build-up of rubbish by stopping ‘serial offenders’ constantly putting out bins on the wrong day and making alleyways an ‘unpleasant no-go area’.
To date CWaC, which is working with the police, university and students’ union, has knocked on 357 doors, issued 134 red letters and issued 41 residents with £75 fixed penalty fines.
Cllr Lynn Riley assured residents the fines were a ‘last resort’ and said: “We have been forced to take such action due to the disgusting state of some of the alleyways – which in some cases look more like Dickensian London than modern Chester – all because the bin bags were put out on the wrong day and in the wrong place.
“I must stress that we are looking to tackle a very small number of persistent offenders with this scheme, and this is much more about educating and informing rather than issuing fixed penalty notices left, right and centre.”