Kennet Bin Bug Secrecy - Council leader "not told of true purpose"
Martin Smith, head of Environmental Services at Kennet District Council, which covers Devizes, admitted that residents had not been told their bins were electronically tagged. Nor is there any reference in documents about the council's waste-recycling strategy. There is nothing sinister about this,' he said. 'These are simply chips that will enable us to sort out disputes between householders about whose wheelie bin is whose. If there are any arguments we can just send out an officer to scan the chip and settle the argument.
'There is a debate in Government over the possibility of introducing charges but that's not what we had in mind when we ordered the chips.'
The Tories have already condemned the proposed charge as another New Labour tax-raising measure. And they warn that people will simply start dumping bags in their neighbours' gardens or at the end of the street to avoid paying.
Wiltshire farmer Tom Seaman urged residents to protest by unscrewing the bugs and sending them back to the council. Mr Seaman, who dumped a digger bucket-ful of uncollected bin bags on the town hall steps during last month's heatwave, said: 'This is a disgraceful backdoor policy. Monitoring devices have been secretly installed without a word of consultation or information. People should not damage council property but send these things back to their rightful owners and demand an explanation.'
Kennet Council chairman Gerry Knunkler said neither he nor council tax payers had been told about the true purpose of the bugs. 'I was assured these things were simply to ensure bins could be returned to the right addresses if they got mixed up or drunks rolled them off,' he said.
Kay Twitchen, of the Local Government Association, said: 'This technology would certainly help councils to levy charges on individual householders.'
Anyone who removed a bug and threw it away might not get their bins emptied, warned Paul Bettison, the Association's environment chief.
Mr Bettison, an advocate of charging, said: 'Removing one of these devices would not break any law as far as I know. But if in the future a local authority decided to charge for taking away rubbish, it would be within its rights to say to that person, "If you don't want to pay, we don't want to provide you with a service."'
But he admitted that at the moment no action could be taken against protesters.
As a note I think it is Jerry Kunkler not "Gerry Knunkler" and he is not the leader of the council but then the Politburo style photo of our glorious leader Councillor Chris Humphries seems to have disappeared off the front page of the Kennet web site overnight. And to believe the tags are just to "help" householders be reunited with their bins is charmingly naive - bins already have a unique serial number and most householder prefer to paint their house number on the bin, which seems slightly easier and cheaper to read than having to wait for a man with a RFID reader to do it.