‘Your weeds are too dirty!’ Grandmother staggered after council refuses to collect her bins because weeds had soil on them
By James Tozer
Last updated at 1:27 AM on 23rd April 2011
After giving her garden a good spring clean with the help of her grandson, Kay McIntyre dutifully tossed the uprooted weeds into the green waste bin.
But the 74-year-old was amazed when binmen refused to collect it – because they claimed the plants had too much mud stuck to their roots.
When she complained, Mrs McIntyre did not receive an apology but was instead visited by a ‘community recycling officer’, who was sent to sift through her wheelie-bin and examine just how dirty its contents were.
Yesterday the grandmother said she was ‘staggered’ by the bureaucracy which had gone into handling her well-intentioned recycling drive, after officials finally relented and arranged for her bin to be emptied.
Mrs McIntyre’s son Andy, father of her gardening helper, eight-year-old Jack, added: ‘It’s the lunatics in charge of the asylum. Are we going to be asked to wash our weeds next?
‘This is council taxpayers’ money. That’s why councils are in the mess they are in.
‘There’s someone sitting there thinking of parameters for weeds and soil. It’s utter madness.’
Mrs McIntyre had been sprucing up the garden of her home in Bramhall, Stockport, with Jack before putting the weeds in her green bin and leaving it out for collection. But after the binmen had been, she found it was still there, still full – and had a sticker on it from Stockport Council which read: ‘The contents of your wheelie bin are not suitable for collection.’
When she rang for an explanation, town hall bosses told her she would have to sort through the rubbish by herself. She refused, prompting the council to send a ‘community recycling officer’ to check the amount of soil in the bin.
‘This inspector actually put her hand in, right down in the bin, to check that what I was saying was truthful,’ Mrs McIntyre said.
‘She was looking for soil. I can understand it if they found a bin where people had been digging up soil or sweeping up glass and putting it in the bin. But in this instance I’m staggered.’
The council eventually relented, and explained there was a problem with the machine that crunches up its garden waste.
Binmen were being trained to assess how much soil had been left clinging to residents’ weeds, Mrs McIntyre was told.
Megan Black, head of environmental services at the council, said: ‘The green bin was reported as contaminated by the collection crew. We are unable to accept soil as part of the materials we can collect and this is clearly stated on the green bin lids.
‘However, after making contact with the resident, a community recycling officer visited the property and assessed that on this occasion the bin could be emptied.
‘Residents are reminded that soil should not be placed in the green bin and advised that soil should be knocked off any plants before being put in the green bin.’ The row comes just days after the Government warned councils not to introduce ‘backdoor’ charges for bin bags or collecting household rubbish, and is the latest in a series of bizarre bin-related incidents.
Last year Walsall council warned residents not to place dead leaves swept from outside their homes in garden waste bins, saying it would ‘contaminate’ them and could incur a £1,000 fine.
Keen gardener John Mason, 64, from Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, was boycotted by collectors for putting rotten apples in his bin, and 73-year-old retired milkman Barry Freezer, from West Earlham, Norwich, suffered the same fate for putting in cabbage stalks.
Both were told the rubbish was kitchen waste and not suitable for composting.
In addition to their green bin for garden and food waste, householders in Stockport are issued with a blue bin for paper and card, a brown bin for plastic bottles, glass and cans, and a black one for everything else.
The Liberal Democrat-led council is expected to cut 350 jobs as it attempts to save about £53million over five years.