WITH council resources stripped back and prioritised for essential services throughout the coronavirus outbreak, the North-East’s streets have seen an increase in overflowing litter bins, rogue dog waste bags and fly tipping.

The Northern Echo spoke to each local authority in the region to find out how they plan to keep streets clean.

Durham County Council says while it is running on a reduced capacity, it has prioritised emptying public littler and dog waste bins, and most should be emptied on “at least” a weekly basis.

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The council notes staff carrying out such tasks are adhering to social distancing and hygiene guidelines, and use gloves.

Oliver Sherratt, Durham's head of environment, said: “ Our neighbourhood wardens have prioritised tackling fly-tipping, including the deployment of cameras in hotspot areas, and we will not hesitate to take further action against perpetrators.

“Whilst during the stay at home period residents may be tempted to take on DIY projects, we would ask that this is held off as much as possible, or to make sure there is a place to safely store unwanted items, until household waste recycling centres or the bulky good collection service are available again.”

In contrast, Darlington Borough Council has “implemented the government guidelines defining essential work”.

Cllr Andy Keir, Darlington's cabinet member for local services, said: "Litter and dog bins are deemed as non-essential and the council has cut back on emptying litter and dog bins during the lockdown period.

“Currently StreetScene teams are working through the borough to empty all the public bins that have not been emptied since lockdown, this is not a planned regular activity during this period given the government guidelines.

“StreetScene will also attach stickers to the bins urging people to ‘bag it and take it home’ reducing the need for bins to be emptied.”

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Some bins around Darlington have also been taped closed, however this was not done by or on behalf of the council.

Stockton Council says it has put a “focus on emptying waste and dog bins until further notice” despite street cleaning services being cut back. Litter and dog waste bins will be emptied as and when they are full, though checked regularly.

Redcar and Cleveland Council also has this approach, emptying all bins “based on need and the rate bins are filled”.

Where bins are full and residents instead drop litter or dog waste bags on the floor, the council says it is prioritising waste collection rather than enforcement due to covid-19, but urge everyone to act responsibly.

Middlesbrough Council is continuing a limited street cleansing programme but public waste bins are being empties frequently, “ranging from daily to weekly, as and where necessary”.

A spokesperson said: “Services do remain under constant review and are being carried out in line with guidelines.

“We would ask the public to do as they would at any other time and not litter or flytip and we will take action where necessary if offences are committed.”

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Richmondshire, which previously urged residents to pick up after their pets and where possible take the waste home, and Hambleton councils have also followed this approach.

The former says dog waste left at the side of the bin would not result in a fine, but household waste left at the side of a litter bins may result in a fine. 

“We do ask residents to take it home if bins are full,” a spokesperson said.

Members of Hambleton’s street team have been reallocated to working on bin rounds, which it has prioritised.

Residents can still report litter and dog waste issues via their appropriate council services.