Colchester binmen 'blame EU law for missed collections'

Rubbish collectors left 70 bin bags to rot at a block of flats in Essex as "it was too dark for them to go inside".

Six flats are in the block in Titania Close, Colchester, and residents have young children and one a newborn baby.

Resident Jill Mawby said bags had not been taken for eight weeks, rats were seen nearby and the smell was "awful".

Borough council managers, alerted to the problem, have apologised verbally, bags have been removed and a clean-up of the storage area has been promised.

The binmen said an EU law meant they could not put their hands where they could not see them and the waste area in the block of flats was too dark, Ms Mawby said.

The mother of two young children said residents had been reporting the issue to the borough council's customer services department for weeks.

Health hazard

"When nothing was done and they were still collecting from everyone else, even an identical block of flats to ours, we waited for them to ask why.

"The binmen said it was too dark and if they cannot see where their hands are going they cannot pick up the bags, it's an EU law."

Residents contacted a local newspaper and waste collection managers became involved.

Ms Mawby said: "None of the managers had heard of the law. They arranged for the bags to be collected and there were more than 70 of them.

"Now we are waiting for the place to be cleaned because the smell is still there and it's a real mess."

Residents believe the stack of uncollected bags was a health hazard.

'Judged safe'

Ms Mawby said: "We had been contacting customer services but that was as far as the problem went. None of the managers were aware until it appeared in the paper."

The borough council said that once the collection problem had been identified, arrangements were made to collect the bags.

Matthew Young, head of street and waste services, said: "An issue was identified at this property with the lighting in the bin store.

"The area has been inspected and assessed by the service manager and has been judged to be safe for collection.

"Service had been interrupted by a breakdown of communication between the collection crew and the management of the refuse collection service, but this has now been rectified.

"All rubbish has now been collected and the area is being deep cleaned. The residents will receive a full apology from the council."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites