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Concern over plan to remove bins from Leeds-Liverpool Canal

Friday, 24 March 2023 22:37

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

Bradford Council says it's seeking urgent discussions with The Canal and Rivers Trust after the charity revealed that it plans to remove most of the bins from towpaths of canals across Yorkshire.

This will include a number along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal through our area.

The Trust said it needed to prioritise maintaining the hundreds of miles of waterway it is responsible for, and getting rid of the canal bins would mean it could “continue to provide free access to our towpaths.”

The charity, which receives funding from the Government, hopes other organisations such as Councils might “step up” and take responsibility for the bins earmarked for removal.

But Bradford Council officers have suggested the authority might not be able to spare staff to traverse the canal towpath to empty bins on a regular basis.

And the authority described the move as “a concern.”

The move will mean that those who walk and cycle on the towpaths will need to carry any litter, or dog poo, with them. The Trust urging users to follow the Countryside Code rather than dump the waste.

A statement to the Local Democracy Reporting Service by the Trust said: “We have written to local authorities across our Yorkshire & North East region advising of our intention to remove many bins from our towpaths.

“As a charity, the Canal & River Trust is faced with soaring costs of looking after the region’s ageing canals at a time when available funding is stretched – notably the continuing real-terms decline in funding from government.

“We need to prioritise maintaining the core fabric of the waterways, including the thousands of locks, bridges, aqueducts and other historic structures that make up the canal network, so that we can continue to provide free access to our towpaths for millions of people and maintain the integrity of the infrastructure to keep communities safe.

“The decision to remove our bins will save much needed money that will help pay for a long list of vital repairs.

“The Trust has many miles of canal where we don’t provide litter bins, including many that have achieved Green Flag Award status.

“Along these canals today, and in future where bins have to be removed, we are asking people who come to enjoy our free-to-visit waterways to follow the Countryside Code and take their litter back with them to be recycled where possible or disposed of responsibly.

“In doing so, they will be helping to protect the environment and helping our charity save vital money so we can keep the canals open.

“Where there are proposals to remove bins, we are first seeking local funding options to adequately service the bins and hope that local partners will step up to help.”

Last year the Trust says it spent £1.4 million nationally emptying bins and clearing fly tipping from the canals.

When asked about the announcement a Bradford Council spokesperson said: “The Canal & River Trust has written to us in the past week to say that they have taken the decision to remove their bins from the canal towpath over the coming months. This is obviously of concern to us as it will be to residents so we are seeking urgent discussions with the Canal & River Trust.”

The issue was raised at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee this week.

Councillor Marcus Dearden (Lab, Bingley) asked Council officers if they were aware of the Trust’s plans, and if the Council could take on responsibility for any bins along the canal.

Stuart Russo, senior technical officer, said it could put a strain on the Council’s waste service, which was already suffering budget pressures. The remote locations of some bins could also cause an issue, he argued.

He said: “We’re happy to look at if we, as a Council, can take bins on.

“But if a bin is going to be half an hour down the towpath, I don’t think that’s something we’ll be able to take on.”

Referring to the decision by the Canal and River Trust, Noreen Akhtar, assistant director of neighbourhoods, said: “It was an information letter we were sent, not a consultation letter.”

Cllr Dearden said: “People will think these are Council bins that are being removed, so it will be us that gets stick from the public.”


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