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BLAENAU GWENT: Stolen Recycling Boxes

BLAENAU GWENT: Stolen Recycling Boxes

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CONCERNS have been raised that youths in Blaenau Gwent have been stealing recycling boxes and setting them on fire.

At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough budget monitoring committee, it was pointed out that replacing destroyed boxes was placing an unnecessary burden on a department’s finances.

The discussion came as councillors discussed the financial out-turn for April to June which has seen a prediction that the council will end the financial year £2.494 million under budget.

But the Environment department is struggling to balance its books and the theft of recycling boxes is an added cost.

It is predicted that the Environment portfolio will will be £323,000 over budget by the end of the financial year.

Cllr Lisa Winnett told the committee that stealing boxes was a big problem in her Blaina ward last winter.

Cllr Winnett said: “Sadly we had a lot of youths who were going into gardens and stealing the trolley boxes when they were ready for collection and burnt them

“In all fairness, we’ve got residents who keep them chained and at times the youths were stealing the boxes and leaving the trolley part.”

She asked what was being done to deal with the problem.

The council’s director for regeneration and community services, Richard Crook said: “We brought the youth service in to try and find out why young people were taking such an interest in our recycling receptacles for non-recycling purposes..

“People’s behaviour is not something the council can control in terms if they choose to steal borrow or do whatever they do with the receptacles.”

Neighbourhood services manager, Mathew Stent told councillors that it cost nearly £65 to provide the recycling boxes, trolley, and food caddy for each property in the county.

He added that they had looked into the issue to find where there were problem hotspots.

Mr Stent said: “Some young adults openly admitted taking them and burning them to keep warm in the winter period.

“These are thefts and we do report them to the police.

“We brought in the fire service to try and make sure if there weren’t going to stop, they could do that in a safe manner.

“Another factor was lockdown; they were not in school for long periods of time.”

Now that children and youths are back at school and with the fire service explaining the dangers of putting the boxes on fire, Mr Stent was hopeful the problem would not be as bad this year.

Cllr Winnet said: “It was good work that was done with youth service, it did help the problem, it’s good to hear that work is ongoing.

“You have this problem every winter, but it did escalate due to covid.”

The report will be discussed by councillors at a meeting of the Executive committee on November 10.

Words: Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

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