More than 6,000 warning letters have been sent to Northampton households for not putting their rubbish into the correct bin sacks during the past six months - but there has not been a single prosecution.
In July Enterprise, the company contracted to carry out bin collections in Northampton, began picking up only the rubbish left out in two regulation green sacks or in a recycling container supplied by the council on bin days.
As a result residents reported hundreds of non-regulation black bin liners were being left on the street after collection days, though Enterprise said it was simply enforcing the terms of its contract with the council.
Later in July the borough council launched what opposition members called a “snitches” hotline for people to report anyone they see not complying with the two-sack rule.
Anyone caught faces a penalty fine of £80, reducing to £50 if paid within 10 days and those who ignore the fines could face prosecution.
But latest figures have revealed that despite the council issuing 6,000 “section 46” penalty notices since June, warning those putting out black bin liners they could face a fine if they continue, the authority has prosecuted no one.
In a response submitted to last week’s full Northampton Borough Council meeting, cabinet member for environment Councillor Alan Bottwood (Con, Upton), said it had deployed a combined strategy of “communication, education and enforcement “ to make sure people put their rubbish out correctly.
“While most people on sack collections have complied with the two green sack policy without the need for formal action, it has been necessary to issue over 6,000 section 46 notices.
“As is the intention, this has had a positive impact on the vast majority of residents who were previously not complying, so that no further action has been necessary.”
Councillor Bottwood said the council had issued 107 “second stage notices” to those who continue to put their waste out in non-regulation black bin liners after the first warning, “however none have been suitable for further action.”
He went on to say there are “a couple of cases in the pipeline,” that could end in prosecution.
Labour Councillor Julie Davenport (Lab, Delapre & Briar Hill) who last week called for wheelie bins to be introduced in all homes with gardens in the borough, says the lack of prosecutions proves the two-sack policy is hard to enforce.
Fines can only be dished out if the offending black sack contains correspondence relating to a household such as addressed letters or bills.
However Councillor Davenport believes many of the guilty parties are wise to this, and as a result shred any mail before it goes in the bin.
She said: “I don’t think it is working. I see hundreds of black bags being left out on collection day, how are the wardens meant to look through all of them?”
“I think since the two sack policy was enforced the town’s waste problem has gotten worse.”