Stink over Axminster waste bin warning

Distrtict council admits it could have worded the warning message a little better

RESIDENTS across the Axe Valley have been left angry and confused by a warning sticker attached to their wheelie bins.

Many thought they had been unfairly singled out for over-filling the containers and were personally being threatened with not having them emptied if they did it again.

The note read: “We have emptied your bin today, however in the future we will not collect landfill waste that is not contained in your EDDC container with the lid shut.”

In fact, the message was attached to everyone’s grey bin as a blanket warning.

This week district council officials admitted they could have worded it better.

Their apology came after Axminster resident Leigh Conley - speaking for many - branded them a bunch of stinkers for their “ill-worded” and costly warning message.

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He said: “To me it reads that I was in the wrong but they have taken my rubbish and next time I won’t be so lucky.

“It is just going to get people’s backs up, but more worryingly there will be some people who will read that and panic that they have done wrong and worry about their future waste disposal.

“In the five years I have lived in Axminster I have witnessed one issue of side waste. Was it really cost effective to place a sticker on every single bin - rather than just actually targeting the offenders when and where they occur?

“And these poorly worded stickers have been produced with some very strong form of adhesive and will not come off - so not only were they not required but now they have effectively vandalised every bin.”

Mr Conley added: “When so many people are struggling to make ends meet the last thing we want to see is our council wasting time and money on a mistimed, misconceived and misexecuted campaign to target an entire town, instead of prioritising the households that matter. Especially when we have already received the information on “Correct bin Practice” several times and, apart from the odd open lid, most people adhere to it anyway.”

Steve Joyce, East Devon District Council’s waste management officer, admitted they had not handled it well.

He said: “I do agree that the wording on the stickers could lead to people interpreting that they have placed side waste out for collection, however this was not our intention.”

But he stressed that side waste was a problem with numerous cases across East Devon.

He said: “Our contractors record cases on a log and write down the properties that have these issues. In the last month alone there were more than 30 cases in Axminster, some of these with more than 10 bags extra placed out. These are only ones that are reported. We suspect there to be more.

“We do aim to deal with the individuals that are placing side waste out but wanted to ensure that we had informed everybody that side waste will not be taken. We have also placed information in the local press and on our website.

“We have had people complaining about the sticker but we have also had people call us to say that they can see why we have done it and it wasn’t a problem.

“I also believe that any campaign that we would have put out would have generated numbers of complaints from householders.”