A PILOT campaign to tackle problem wheelie bins will be rolled out in a Hartlepool neighbourhood.
Cleveland Fire Brigade and Hartlepool Borough Council are teaming up to launch an awareness campaign around properly storing bins.
It comes after residents and councillors complained of bins being left out for days on end, rubbish piling up in alleys and bins being a target by arsonists and thieves.
It costs Cleveland Fire Brigade £2,000 to attend a bin fire and ties up resources.
There have been more than 20 wheelie bin blazes in Hartlepool since April, compared to the previous year’s 17.
The council carried out a survey in July in eleven streets between Hart Lane and Grange Road in Victoria ward.
The same area will be the focus of the pilot scheme which will hammer home the message of not leaving bins out and could see people fined if they do not comply.
Councillor Peter Jackson, chairman of the Neighbourhood Services Committee, said: “This pilot scheme, in partnership with Cleveland Fire Brigade, comes as a direct response to residents’ requests for action to be taken to deter neighbours who put their bins out too early, or leave them out after they have been emptied, making the bins a potential target for arsonists.
“Cleveland Fire Brigade is also involved in a similar scheme with another local authority on Teesside and brings experience and knowledge of schemes that work.
“The majority of residents in Hartlepool are very responsible, but when bins are left out in the street they are a magnet for bin fires which pose a serious risk to residents as they can spread to properties.
“They also cause an obstruction and prevent our street cleansing teams from doing their work properly.
“This 12-month pilot scheme will take place in areas identified as having a particular problem and we will assess the effectiveness of the pilot, prior to deciding the merit of expanding the scheme to other areas of the town.”
The council says bins should be put out no earlier than 7pm the day before they are due to be collected and brought in no later than 7pm on collection day.
The 12-month pilot will include a five-stage awareness campaign.
Bins which are left out after collection day will be stickered with a reminder and outlining the risks.
Any still out after three days will be removed by the council and residents will need to ask for a free replacement.
Further problems may be see residents hit with a £25 replacement charge and a £60 Fixed Penalty Notice.
Steve McCarten, Hartlepool district manager for Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Bin fires pose a serious risk to residents as they can easily spread to adjacent properties, putting lives in danger.
“Furthermore, we have seen a significant increase in wheeled bin fires in Hartlepool in recent months – over 20 since April this year compared with 17 for the whole of last year.
“We are pleased to be working in partnership with Hartlepool council on this important pilot scheme to encourage all residents to play their part in helping to keep their neighbourhood safe by storing their bins properly and so reducing the risk of fires being started in them.”