Progress on Northumberland County Council's Ashington communal bins scheme causes increased parking havoc
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Despite formal objections from local residents, Northumberland County Council plans for shared bins in fenced enclosures on the back lanes of Hawthorn Road were approved in January.
Concerns were raised yet again when construction began in July and many found their driveways blocked by foundations put in place in anticipation of the new bins, and parking and manoeuvring space in the lane reduced.
But work has continued to progress, and with the raised bases now fully in place the parking situation has become even worse.
Hawthorn Road resident Andrew Hill said: “People who were parking, for example, in their drives are now just parking in the little bit of road that we have between our houses and the raised bit in the middle where the bins are going to be.
“The only way I actually get to my house now is to actually drive over the middle bit.
“If people continue to do that I am not able to get anywhere near my back gates.
“People are parking like this because obviously they cannot now get into their yards either because of these caged areas where the bins are going to be. It is actually causing more of a problem now than the initial issue.”
There have been multiple occasions where neighbours have asked Andrew to move his car since the kerbs were built, as he is blocking their vehicles in or there is no space for them to park near their property.
He has already damaged his car by driving over the kerbs and is increasingly concerned about what will happen when the bins are in place and going over becomes impossible, but the council is not responding to his complaints.
Andrew said: “I have written to them again on numerous occasions and still to no avail.
“Nothing back in email, letter form, callbacks, anything of that nature. We are in exactly the same boat as we were before.”
The bins are not actually intended for Hawthorn Road residents who will keep their own bins, rather for the neighbouring streets with which they share the back lanes.
On top of parking and access problems, residents are also concerned the bin enclosures will be unsightly, inaccessible for the elderly, antisocial behaviour magnets, and lead to overflowing litter, a bad smell, increased vermin, and fly-tipping.
Andrew said: “It feels like they are trying to push us out. A lot of houses have also gone up for sale now, and they are our neighbours and our friends.
“I am really, really upset. It is distressing. It makes you very anxious. It kind of makes your thought process all muddled up because it is always there in the background, so you find it very hard to just function daily and not worry about it.”
Councillor Colin Horncastle, cabinet member for the environment, said: "The council continues to invest in this project to improve the waste storage and collection arrangements for the properties in the Hirst area of Ashington.
“The bin compounds enable residents in these areas to access large communal bins, which will improve the storage of waste and recycling material which is currently left out on the street for collection in sacks.
"This will help to reduce litter and improve the overall appearance and standard of cleanliness in the area.
“We are aware a very small number of residents have raised concerns, mainly around parking issues.
"We have met with them and in response to the concerns raised some minor changes are being made to a small number of the compounds in a bid to alleviate any issues."