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Backlash over £110 fines for Islington residents who refuse to recycle

PUBLISHED: 06:45 25 November 2010

Recycling centre

Recycling centre

Archant

BIN wardens are to spy on people’s rubbish – and hit them with on-the-spot fines if they fail to recycle.

Recycling is to be made compulsory across Islington – and residents who fail to separate their cans from their chocolate wrappers will be hit with £110 fines.

Islington Council insists that the fines will only be used as a last resort against persistent offenders.

But residents who already have to contend with traffic wardens fining them for parking in the wrong place and undercover pooper snoopers penalising them for not cleaning up after their dogs say it is another example of town hall “Big Brother” town hall.

And even Islington Green Party has condemned the move as “wrong-headed” – warning that residents will see it as a money-making exercise.

Peter Muswell, chairman of the Redbrick Estate Tenant Management Organisation in Old Street, Finsbury, added: “Yes, people should be recycling but I am not in favour of the nanny state. People will be annoyed by bin wardens snooping on their rubbish.”

Sharon Jobe, head of the Clockwork Tenants’ and Residents’ Association in North Road, Holloway, believes the scheme will simply be unworkable on estates – where people use communal bins.

She said: “I don’t recycle. I’ve got a big bin and I put a black bag in it and take it out every day – and that suits me fine.

“The recycling box I’ve been given is tiny. You take the leaves off one cabbage and it’s full. I don’t want that sort of thing stinking out my house for a week.

“Fining people might work on street properties but how will they know who is doing it on estates?”

Under the scheme, residents who refuse to recycle even though they have been given recycling facilities will be identified by the council’s street management officers.

They will then be issued with a warning – and if they continue to throw recyclables in with their rubbish, they will be fined.

The council plans to introduce the tough new regime in February.

Councillor Catherine West, leader of the council, said: “Our bin men tend to know which households are good recyclers and those who are not so strong. We will warn those households first and then we will move to enforcement.

“The whole recycling initiative has been out there for a long time and now is the time to move to making it compulsory.”

The opposition political parties claim that the move is not about saving money – but about finding yet another way to rake in money from long-suffering Islington residents.

Councillor Arthur Graves, the Liberal Democrats’ environment spokesman, said: “This just looks like another way of raking in cash off people when they are already struggling. What’s fair about rifling through bins and then fining people?”

Islington Green Party spokeswoman Emma Dixon added: “Everyone wants to improve recycling rates but it’s just wrong-headed to make people worried about trying to do the right thing. We have seen this before with parking.

“If the council gets heavy-handed about enforcement, and people see it as a money-making exercise, residents will be put off recycling.”

In 2008, the then Lib-Dem administration came under fire when it emerged that bin snoopers were rifling through residents’ bins in order to establish whether they were recycling.

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