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Fines for leaving bins out are cut
FINES for York residents who leave their bins out for too long are to be cut after the Government said they were too high.
City of York Council has been forced to lower the penalties it can impose on people who put their rubbish out days before it is due, under changes to national laws.
The authority was previously able to issue £100 fines, reduced to £80 for those who paid within ten days, but the penalties will now be set at £80, the maximum allowed under amendments to the Environmental Protection Act.
Anybody who settles the fine promptly can now pay £50.
Before the changes were introduced, councils could fine between £75 and £110, with York having set its levels at the higher end of that scale. The shake-up means any authority which does not make its own decision on a penalty level, ranging from £60 to £80, must accept a “default” fine of £60.
Environment Minister Lord Taylor said the new laws are to ensure councils issue such fines as a “last resort”. The Government wants the penalties to be “more proportionate and better targeted”, and to take “civil liberties” into account.
City of York Council has said it will ensure the times when rubbish is left for collection will continue to be checked. The fines do not cover items to be recycled.
Liz Levett, the authority’s head of environmental enforcement and parking, said: “Fixed penalty notices are the final stage after all other attempts, through contact with the resident, advice assistance and a first-stage written warning, fail, and then the issue of a formal notice.
“Where that formal notice is ignored – and we do monitor – the option is then to either offer a fixed penalty or to prosecute in the magistrates’ court.”
She said the new fines were similar to those issued to people who drop litter, adding: “It’s important to reflect that, and to reflect the nuisance which can be caused to local residents and neighbourhoods when people put their refuse in public areas incorrectly.”
The Local Government Association, backed by four charities, has written to Lord Taylor saying not enough consideration has been given to the impact more lenient fines could have on local residents and pedestrians, particularly elderly people and those with sight problems.
It called for councils to be allowed to keep the fining powers they previously held, because these penalties recognised “the impact an inconsiderate minority can have”.
The letter said: “If bins and bags are put on the street haphazardly or left out for long periods, many people’s ability to get down their own street will be restricted.”
“The proposed new sanctions would not reflect the difficulty and danger to vulnerable street users and the inconvenience and frustration for everybody which can result from bins and rubbish obstructing pavements.”
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