Blitz on residents too lazy to take their bins out

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LAZY residents who abuse a household waste collection service are to be targeted in a new crackdown by council bosses.

Residents can currently ask Hartlepool Borough Council for an assisted collection, which sees council workers help those people unable to get their bins and bags to the kerbside on collection day.

Around 1,000 households in town take advantage of the free service which sees workers collect the rubbish from an agreed location, empty it and return it.

But council bosses say the scheme is abused by some people – despite them being physically fit enough to put their own rubbish out for collection.

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Senior officers say there is “anecdotal evidence” of abuse as the numbers using the service has steadily increased.

It has led to a revamp to make the system more efficient.

Craig Thelwell, Hartlepool Borough Council’s waste and environmental services manager, said: “The system has been abused.

“The idea is to create a more robust scheme.”

The verification process will now be similar to the one for Blue Badge requests and residents will have to fill in a more detailed application form to qualify.

There is not a figure for exact cases of abuse but officers say the anecdotal evidence from collection staff highlights households across town abusing the system.

Mr Thelwell added: “The present assisted household waste collection list stands at around 1,000 households, and is steadily increasing.

“Anecdotal evidence exists, which suggests many of these residents are in receipt of the service when there is no obvious reason for this to be the case.

“Clearly, this unnecessary use, or abuse, serves only to burden the waste and environmental services section at a time when it is looking to operate as efficiently as possible in order to make significant financial savings for the council.

“It makes sense therefore that a more robust process is introduced at the earliest opportunity as part of a major review of waste management services.”

Automatic qualification will apply if the applicant is in receipt of any one of the following:

● Disability Living Allowance (Higher Rate mobility);

● War Pension (mobility);

Blue Badge holder;

● Disabled bus pass holder;

● Registered blind;

● Residents over the age of 80.

Officers say there is a risk some residents with a genuine need may not meet the qualification criteria, so there will be home visit assessments available for borderline applications.

Senior officers say the situation has evolved because there was not an effective system of identifying individuals with a “genuine need” for assistance.

At the moment all people need to supply is their name, address, date of birth and whether any able-bodied person can help them put the rubbish out.

Applications are currently made by letter, telephone or via the council’s website, but there is no system in place to verify the information provided.

The new system, approved at a transport and neighbourhood portfolio meeting chaired by Mayor Stuart Drummond, aims to tackle that.

Cases will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Mayor Drummond said: “I have no problem as long as the time saved is not spent on administrating this scheme.”

Mr Thelwell said it should reduce the level of administration.

The new form will go to all current service users and be used for new applications with the aim of reducing the number of households that do not qualify.

For more information about the scheme call Hartlepool Connect on (01429) 523333.