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Dastardly Deeds Done In The Dark

Monday December 7, 2020

I confess to a fascination
with the history of Heaton and the areas journey from small, outlying farms to the
current vibrant urban landscape. During the centuries, Heaton must have endured
crimes that would horrify today’s hipster café society. From the 13th
to the 17th century the Border Reivers would have made life
challenging as Heaton was well outside the city walls. The 19th
century would have seen footpads, cut-purses and mountebanks lurking in the

And now comes a wave of
crime that has landlords, managing agents and tenants gnashing their teeth in
rage. Binjacking. Yes, the theft of wheely bins has become a major issue here
in Heaton and, no doubt, elsewhere in the north east.

Originally bins were
provided free by the council. A simple solution to keeping our streets free of
rubbish and ensuring its efficient disposal. All well and good, until your bin
is stolen. Then the Council require a payment of £25.00 to replace each one.
Quite why anybody would want to steal a bin is beyond me, but it happens. And it
causes a chain reaction.

Let us say the tenant of
number 6 puts out their bin like a responsible citizen. And comes home to find
it missing. They need a bin and the simple, if illegal solution is to walk up
the street and purloin the bin from number 26. Now number 26 is without a bin
and the simple, if illegal solution is…. I am sure you can see where this is
going. It is quite amusing to imagine masked binjackers criss-crossing the back
lanes of Heaton at dead of night dragging squeaking wheely bins in their wake.

But as with any crime, the
result can be less than amusing for the victims. Let us say a tenancy has
ended. The outgoing tenants have put their bins out which have been emptied
then vanished. The incoming tenant expects bins to be provided. The landlord
has supplied bins and is unwilling to shell out £50.00 for new ones.

The Council really do not
care who pays them for the new bin and in some instances, appear to use
legislation to come down hard rather than trying to mediate. A tenant of ours
rang the Council recently to report that she had no bin. A Council Licensing
Inspector duly arrived. She walked straight into the back yard. “You have no
bins” was her august judgement.  Clear to
see why these guys earn the big bucks?

The end result of this
ludicrous situation is serious. Rubbish accumulates and can pile up in yards
and back lanes. Glad tidings for rats, urban foxes and other pests. The answer
is pretty simple. The Council should replace stolen bins. Overall the numbers
are small but the knock-on effect of binjacking is serious. In 1927 the
composer Ray Henderson sang “The best things in life are free”. I am sure he
did not envisage free bins when he wrote it, but streets free from rubbish must
rank, if not the best, certainly as a pretty good thing in life.

Talk of rats, thieves and
piles of bin smelly bags has put me in a proper festive mood. As this is the December
– January edition of the magazine, may I wish everybody a happy, rubbish free
Christmas and a prosperous new year?

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