A CRACKDOWN on people leaving their bins on public footways long after they have been emptied has been proposed by councillors. The Environment Committee of Ards and North Down Council agreed bins left on public footways are not only unsightly, but they can lead to hygiene and contamination issues, as well as safety concerns because pedestrians are forced onto the road. Raising the issue, councillor Alistair Cathcart stated it was unacceptable bins were being left on footways long after the collection date. “They obstruct the path for pedestrians especially those with wheelchairs, mobility scooters and prams, forcing them on the road,” he said. “They also present a danger for people with impaired vision or mobility problems, lead to vandalism, litter, fly-tipping and arson, get blown in the wind and damage vehicles or other property and make it difficult for the council to keep the street clean. “This has been an ongoing problem for years but the number of complaints I have received has increased recently,” he added.

The councillor said councils in England can issue fixed penalty notices if householders’ bins cause an obstruction to neighbours, restrict access to the pavement or street, were likely to attract vermin like foxes and rats or were unsightly. However, Mr Cathcart said councils in Northern Ireland don’t have this power. He proposed the council wrote to the Department for Infrastructure to clarify what powers they had in relation to this and to ask them to enforce these powers. He also asked council officers to investigate what the council could do. “Bins left on footways beyond collection day is a difficult problem to solve but it is made harder by the lack of enforcement – enforcement needs teeth,” Mr Cathcart said. “I wouldn’t think you would need to fine people often – a warning of a fine should be sufficient – but we can’t even give that.” Agreeing, councillor Janice MacArthur said bins on footways were a particular problem for people who were sight impaired or who had mobility issues. “We’re talking about bins that are left out 24/7,” she said, adding she had reports of 21 bins being left out in a very narrow place. ‘It is a complex problem,” she concluded. “If there was a penalty for it people would think twice.”