Scrapping free collections 'has created more blazes'

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THE NUMBER of rubbish fires is on the rise because of the city council's move to scrap free collections, it was claimed today.

&#149 Jon Black says dumped rubbish is becoming a fire hazard.

Jon Black, secretary of Pilton's tenants and residents association, said an increase in flytipping had been accompanied by a spate of dangerous blazes.

Free special uplifts were axed in April and replaced with a 19.99 charge in a bid to slash costs and help fill the city's 90 million funding black hole.

Mr Black said that on Monday evening, a pile of rubbish was torched in a back green on West Pilton View, sparking a blaze near to residents' homes.

A fire appliance was back the next day to put out another rubbish fire in West Pilton Grove. and those incidents come in the wake of a blaze at a stairwell in West Pilton Rise earlier in the month.

Mr Black said: "The ban on free uplifts is leading to an increase in fly-tipping and dangerous fires.

"This dumped rubbish is a fire hazard in an area like ours, with lots of socially excluded youth. The council is trying to cut costs, but stopping free uplifts is going to end up costing tax payers a lot more in police and fire service costs. And as Monday's blaze demonstrates, it could lead to people being injured or worse.

"We demand that the council reintroduces free uplifts, publicises them better, and makes them easier for residents to organise, so that dangerous incidents like this one are much less likely."

The city's environment leader, Cllr Robert Aldridge, said the local authority "would not tolerate" fly-tipping and was committed to boosting recycling in the city.

"From April of this year, a charge was applied to the special uplift service, bringing us in line with the majority of other Scottish councils. At 19.99 for up to six items our charge is still very reasonable.

"The council is dedicated to making it as easy as possible for people to adopt the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle message and deal with their waste and unwanted items in a responsible and appropriate manner. "We have four Community Recycling Centres in the city where people can take unwanted items and recycle free of charge. All of these have a reuse cabin, which accept donations of furniture and electrical items for people who are unable to furnish their home."

A spokeswoman for the fire service said that as well as being antisocial, fly-tipping was a potential fire hazard and a magnet for fireraisers.

"Discarded rubbish is often an attractive target for vandals and firesetters. Deliberate fires can spread quickly and put individuals and property at risk. There is also a financial and environmental impact from subsequent fire damage which has a very negative effect on local communities.

And they added: "If you are concerned about combustible materials in a common stair you can contact the Fire and Rescue Service as it is an offence to store these items in a common stair."