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What a flaming waste of money!
Wednesday 27th April, 2005

What a flaming waste of money!

It's costing residents over a hundred thousand pounds every year ... and it's happening on your street. Wheelie bins are being stolen or torched on a daily basis, and now local fire chiefs and council officers asking householders to help them stamp out the growing drain on the public purse.

Last year, Wigan fire-fighters attended an average of two wheelie bin fires EVERY night.

They say most fires are started in empty bins left out overnight after collections, often in the backs of terraced properties. The council is asking residents to keep the streets clear of bins to allow access for vehicles and pedestrians, and fire chiefs have also underlined the need to reduce the risk of temptation for vandals to start fires in them.

"Please take care of your bins" says cleansing supervisor Jeff Drake. "Return them safely to your property after collection. This is a courtesy to your neighbours and might even prevent a serious incident."

Hindley Station Commander Martyn Smith added: "What starts out as people thinking they're having fun can often turn into something far worse, and we're lucky that no one in Wigan borough has been seriously injured as a result of this. These incidents are also needlessly tying up valuable firefighting resources."

But fires are not the only waste of money where bins are concerned. Last year two thousand residents' bins were reported stolen and new ones provided. Each costs the authority up to 50 in materials and employee time. Cleansing staff are tightening up their monitoring to ensure bins are replaced quickly in all genuine cases of theft.

To assist refuse collectors, residents can paint their house number on their bin to ensure it is returned to the right address after collection.

Mr Drake thanked the public for their co-operation: "Keeping the streets tidy is in everyone's interest, and we want to target our resources where they are really needed."

The call comes at a time when thousands of new green wheelie bins are being delivered to residents across the borough for trial collections of garden waste.

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