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Plan to fine Torfaen residents failing to recycle criticised as ‘draconian’

PLANS to fine people who refuse to recycle in Torfaen have been criticised as ‘draconian’ and should not be introduced at the moment, councillors have said.

Torfaen council is considering developing an enforcement scheme which could see residents fined if they repeatedly include recyclable materials in their black bins left out for collection.

Recycling officers would inspect black bins and leave a letter to residents who include recyclable materials under the scheme. Further warnings would be sent out before fines which would be issued as “the last resort”.

The ‘fair enforcement’ policy is included in Torfaen council’s waste and recycling strategy, which sets out plans for the service up to 2025.

Torfaen council is considering the option as a way to improve its recycling rate after it failed to meet the Welsh Government’s minimum 64 per cent target last year.

If supported, the scheme would be developed over the next year with a view to being implemented in 2024.

A council report says more than 50 per cent of materials being disposed of in black bins are recyclable, with particular concern about the amount of food waste.

However councillors on Torfaen council’s cleaner communities overview and scrutiny committee were opposed to the plan at a meeting on Thursday.

Cllr Elizabeth Haynes said there could be an argument for the scheme in the future, but that it should not be considered at the moment.

“Now is not the time to introduce what could be called draconian enforcement,” she said.

She said many people were struggling financially and mentally following the pandemic.

“I do not think we should be adding to those stresses,” she added.

Cllr Stuart Ashley said he was “not comfortable about it in the slightest”, and that instead the council should focus on education and community engagement about recycling.

Cllr Stuart Evans said that recycling services needed to be improved before the scheme could be considered.

“Residents in my ward have said they are not going to recycle no further because they are not having the services that they expect,” he said.

Cllr Huw Bevan said “the timing is not right” for the scheme, but that it could be reconsidered in a few years.

He said it would require “a significant amount” of educational campaigns and communication with residents, when the council still has staff off sick and isolating.

The committee recommended the council does not develop a scheme of enforcement and instead focusses on engagement and education.

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Plan to fine Torfaen residents failing to recycle criticised as ‘draconian’

Dozens of Plastic bottles