I suspect there are many residents across the city who have been reassured by the Council’s promise that if their house is not suitable for a wheelie bin, they won’t have to have one.
Today I was invited to take a look at some terraced houses whose occupants know only too well that what the Labour Council classes as unsuitable for a wheelie bin, and what they class as unsuitable for a wheelie bin is not the same thing at all.
The residents live in terraced properties in Harborne. They were assessed in the spring, and will be getting their wheelie bins in the next couple of weeks as Harborne is a pilot ward.
These particular terraces have a passageway leading to the rear of the properties which is shared by 12 houses. Six to the left, and six to the right. If you lived in the end one of these therefore, and you kept your wheelie bin at the back of your property, on bin day you would have to wheel EACH of your wheelie bins past the back of 6 houses, down the passageway, and then along the fronts of 6 houses to get it outside your own property. That’s up to 36 wheelie bins being moved along the shared passageway on bin day – it could become quite a traffic jam. The passageways also have pipes in them, and if they are damaged, residents are liable.
It seems the Council has assumed these residents won’t keep their wheelie bins at the back of their properties, because they have admitted they have assessed the properties on whether or not there is space at the front to store the wheelie bins.
Each of these Victorian terraced properties has a small front garden, which is the width of the house (front door and reception room with bay window), and about 8′-10′ deep. Those who have laid out the whole plot to garden (so would have to store the wheelie bins on their flowers or grass) have been given red cards (only after a fight in some cases as the original assessment was done in the snow and the assessors couldn’t see if the frontages were garden or paving so assumed there was somewhere to store bins when there wasn’t always.)
Those who have some paving in the front garden have been green carded, on the basis that they can store the wheelie bins on their frontage. In some cases this will have to be directly in front of the bay window – but the Council appears to care not. They have been green carded, and two wheelie bins they will get.
The road is very attractive, with hedges and nicely maintained front gardens (whether they’re paved with bushes, pots or whatever, or laid to lawn and flowers). Soon the fear is it will resemble a sea of wheelie bins – with two in each small front garden (three in some once the green wheelie bin system comes in next year), and the prospect of people having to look out of their front bay windows straight onto their wheelie bins.
What is the alternative? To store the bins permanently on the pavement? One resident asked at the Harborne Wheelie Bin Roadshow if he could do this, and was told he could be fined if he did.
Not surprisingly, the residents I spoke to this morning are upset about it – and I can see why. I wouldn’t want to have my wheelie bins permanently stored directly outside, and covering part of, my lounge window. There is a large amount of terraced housing in Birmingham, and I foresee this scenario repeating itself endlessly over the coming months – with a lot more people feeling as angry as the Harborne Residents I met with this morning.