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Help us banish the bin burners!
Tuesday 20th October, 2009

Help us banish the bin burners!
Wigan Commander John Harding, Joanne Makin from Wigan Council Neighbourhood Teams, Wigan Commander Neil Gaskell, Leigh Commander Andy Tonge and Wigan Council cleansing supervisor Paul Ashall at Wigan Fire Station.

A campaign has been launched aimed at tackling the problem of deliberate wheelie-bin fires which blight neighbourhoods and put lives at risk.

Wigan & Leigh Housing, Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service and Wigan Council have joined forces to tackle the problem in a high profile education and enforcement campaign – scheduled to run during a period which historically sees a marked increase in fire-related incidents.

“Over the next four weeks, we will be visiting the Scholes neighbourhood where people have suffered this kind of criminal damage and anti-social behaviour,” says Cllr. Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council’s champion for neighbourhood.

“Whilst the fires are often started simply out of mischief, there is always the danger that they can escalate and get out of control. That’s why it is so important to get the message across, particularly to children and youths who may be tempted to get involved either out of peer pressure or boredom, that this kind of activity won’t be tolerated and actually there are far better – and safer – ways for them to spend their spare time.”

As part of the campaign, fire service crews will visit primary schools to give advice and assistance to young people, alerting them to the dangers of lighting fires in wheelie bins – and of the potential consequences.

“Deliberate fires have a huge impact on the ability of the Fire & Rescue Service to attend more serious, and potentially more life-threatening, incidents across Greater Manchester,” says Neil Gaskell from Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue.

“This 4-week campaign calls upon members of the community to help us prevent this waste of resources by asking householders to be more vigilant with their wheelie bins. Evidence suggests that there is a definite spike in this kind of fire around bin collection day. Residents need to be aware that when they put their wheelie bins out for collection, they are invariably full of highly combustible waste, and a bin left unattended for long periods of time can be an open invitation for arsonists.”

“Firestoppers is a free and confidential 24-hour helpline number which anybody can call to give information relating to people they suspect of starting deliberate fires. If, however, you wish to report a fire, members of the public should still call 999,” adds Neil.

Kevin Ashcroft from Wigan & Leigh Housing also added his endorsement:

“We are keen to see this type of mindless vandalism addressed, and are working with our partner agencies to take steps to reduce the opportunities for this kind of behaviour. Additionally we will be taking enforcement action against any Wigan and Leigh Housing tenant who is found to be involved.”

Cllr. Anderson continues:

“This multi-agency, joined-up approach, which pulls together the work of key partners from across the borough, is the most effective way of tackling what is surely one of the most senseless acts of criminal damage.

“By targeting known ‘hot spots’, we can focus our shared resources on dealing with this problem at grass-roots level, and educating the public in how they can take an active role in preventing the waste of resources which can potentially put people’s lives in danger.”

The campaign runs alongside Operation Treacle, an initiative aimed at tackling low level crime, anti-social behaviour and criminal damage across the borough.

Led on by Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, Operation Treacle brings together various partners including the Council, Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust and Greater Manchester Police - and includes a range of activities aimed at education, prevention and diversion.

“A range of activities has been organised during this specific period, one which is often associated with youths involved in anti-social behaviour,” says Joanne. “For further information about Operation Treacle, and the activities laid on, please log on to www.wigan.gov.uk

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