POTENTIALLY dangerous waste dumped by a roadside near York was put in bags and taped off by the emergency services - but six weeks have passed and the bags are still just lying there, with grass and weeds growing around them.

Police and firefighters took matters so seriously when the asbestos waste was dumped on a verge that they sealed off the road before carefully bagging it up.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue service then taped off the area where the six bags were left lying, at the side of a country lane near Wigginton.

Then environmental health chiefs from Hambleton District Council were called in and asked to remove the waste. But now, almost six weeks later, the bags are still lying on the verge in Plainville Lane.

Local residents - one of whom contacted the Evening Press after despairing at how long it was taking to remove the waste - today blasted the delay, which they said could have put children at risk.

"A lot of youngsters cycle along here," said one, farmer John Bell, of nearby Rosecroft Farm. "A curious child could stop and open up one of the bags and disturb the material, and end up breathing in the dust."

He said he had repeatedly phoned environmental bosses to remind them to remove the material, and had repeatedly been told that someone would come to take it away, but nothing ever happened.

A Hambleton Council spokeswoman today admitted: "Six weeks is unacceptable and we apologise for the delay."

She said the district council did have responsibility for taking away fly-tipped waste, but in this case - because the material was potentially hazardous - it had had to contact North Yorkshire County Council so it could arrange for specialist contractors to collect it.

She said following the Evening Press inquiry, Hambleton had contacted the county council again.

A county council spokesman said today the waste would be removed on Friday and added that new procedures would be introduced to speed up the removal of such waste in future.

Updated: 10:09 Wednesday, July 06, 2005