Town Hall is 'trashed' in protest

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Disgruntled residents dumped bags of rubbish on the steps of the Town Hall to protest about Preston's controversial rubbish collections.

The symbolic gesture was designed to get the council to solve the problems with the new fortnightly collections that were introduced on May 16.

Preston Council extended the fortnightly rubbish collections, initially rolled out to 26,0000 homes in 2001, to all of the city to meet Government recycling rates.

Since then, the authority and the Evening Post have been inundated with complaints about missed collections, people without gardens getting brown garden waste bins or residents not receiving their new recycling boxes.

Some residents got notes on their bins saying they would be charged 50 if their bins overflowed in the future – something the council has tried to play down as "a last resort".

Desperate bin bosses resorted to slinging sorted recycling in the back of a normal refuse truck in a bid to catch up with the backlog.

The chaos has led politicians to brand the scheme a "fiasco" and say the council tried to do too much in too short a time. But Preston Council bosses have vowed to work as hard as possible to make the system work and make life easier for residents.

Battling bin men have been working extra shifts to restore order but have encountered angry, sometimes abusive, residents. Asma Vorajee, of Great Avenham Street, Preston, took part in the Town Hall protest.

She said: "I have four children and the youngest is 17-months-old and still in nappies.

"We get through four nappies a day so that means more than 60 for the fortnight. The smell in the bins after that time is just awful.

"I recycle but lifting the boxes is just a nightmare. We have a problem in Avenham and it is getting worse."

Preston Council's current recycling rate is 21% but this needs to reach 25% by the end of the year, 40% in 2010 and 56% in 2015 to reach government targets.

Mohammed Shamshuddim, of Chaddock Street, Preston, said: "The council are very keen to take people to court to get money so they can spend some of that money in doing the right thing."

Zuber Isap, of Bence Road, Preston, said: "They are saying we collect the bins every other week and that would be fine if the rubbish was not kitchen waste like leftover vegetables and meat.

"That stands in the bin for two weeks and the stench coming out is horrendous. Where has the health and safety gone? You get them doing it for everything else. I will not be paying their 50 fine."

Preston Coun Michael Lavelette, of town centre ward, said: "I have handed a letter in asking council chief executive Jim Carr and and council leader John Collins if they would walk around Frenchwood with me to see the problem.

"I am sure if it was outside Jim Carr's house the problem of the rubbish collections would have been solved weeks ago. I have also got a petition with more than 100 signatures from residents in the Avenham and Frenchwood areas.

"This is one of the only things that Preston Council does anymore. Surely it is not beyond the realms of possibility for them to solve it."

Coun Steven Brooks (Lab), of Tulketh ward, said: "On day one Tulketh was one of the places that should have been cleaned and it was not. I immediately asked Adrian Phillips (assistant director of cleansing and transport at Preston Council] and John Collins (Preston Council leader] to do a review. Someone has just tarred all areas with the same brush."

A council spokesman: "The situation is under control. People have used the recycling facilities more than we anticipated but we are now getting on top of it. We are also getting more recycling boxes out to those who need them."