Eight rubbish fires reported during strike by bin lorry drivers

Eight rubbish fires were started late last week before senior council officials asked for a “dispensation” from the GMB union to start clearing bin stores beneath blocks of flats.

Officials sought the dispensation as bin lorry drivers continued their strike but before a deal was agreed to suspend the strike.

Papers released before a special meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee revealed that the council wanted three drivers and six loaders to clear bin stores and “side waste” each day while the strike continued.

Rubbish caught light in Trinity Street, Richmond Terrace, Morley Street, Kingswood Steet and Pavilion Parade.

And there were fires in bins at Preston Circus, in Western Road and on the corner of Springfield Road and Beaconsfield Road.

One fire left scorch marks on a block of flats at the corner of Morley Street and Grand Parade.

Councillors instructed officials to seek a dispensation from the union to allow teams to remove rubbish from bin stores during a special meeting last Wednesday (13 October).

The letter from council chief executive Geoff Raw sent to GMB organiser Gary Palmer on Saturday (16 October) said: “Waste around communal bins and recycling sites is starting to intrude on to the road and pavement.

“This presents a health and safety risk not only for traffic using the road but also prevents pedestrians from using the pavements, forcing them into the road.

“It is particularly problematic for disabled people and those pushing prams.

“In addition, the build-up of side waste has increased the fire risk. The causes of the fires vary from deliberate ignition to accidental causes, such as smoking materials and hot items being disposed of.

“Regular removal of waste from communal bins and recycling points keeps the risk from fire to a tolerable level.

“Similarly, the regular removal of potentially hazardous substances, such as gas cylinders, contribute to reducing the risk outcomes.

“When there is more rubbish, there can be more fires. This may present a risk to life, property and the environment, depending on the location of the bin.

“It is noticeable that there are increased fly-tips of bulky waste, alongside black bag waste, and this may also include hazardous materials which raises the potential severity of outcomes.”

Drivers voted to accept the council’s latest offer yesterday (Monday 18 October), without agreeing to the dispensation.

This afternoon the council’s Policy and Resources Committee is being asked to back the agreement reached between officials and the union – and its impact on the budget.

The meeting is due to start at 4pm at Hove Town Hall and is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

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