This is the article which appeared front page in today's Bournemouth Daily Echo:
By Lynn Jackson
AS MANY as a third of Bournemouth residents could have removed the hidden computer chip from their new wheelie bins, a Bournemouth councillor has claimed.
And Cllr Nick King has warned that it could cost more than £600,000 to replace the electronic tags.
A survey by the Littledown and Iford councillor and Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood has revealed that between a quarter and a third of householders who contacted them had disabled the chip.
"It's a disaster," he said. "In some roads it seems nearly every resident has removed or destroyed the chips."
Last week, Bournemouth council warned householders who took out the computer chips could face a £28 bill for a replacement bin.
The borough's recycling champion, Cllr John Hayter, said: "If we are unable to empty bins because the chip has been deliberately tampered with, it would then be necessary to replace the bin, which would normally be at the householders' expense."
Now, Cllr King believes the furore surrounding the chip and bin could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
He said: "I've seen differing estimates of the number of new bins, the lowest being 65,000.
"Based on a 25 per cent destruction rate and a cost of £28 to replace a bin, this means that the cost of the PR and administrative disaster this is turning out to be is already an additional £455,000.
"If you take the upper estimate of a third, then the cost could run to over £600,000."
And he condemned the council for not telling residents about the hidden tag. "A lot of money has been wasted for the sake of a couple of lines in council literature," he added.
Installing chips on the 70,000 new wheelie bins has cost the council, and ultimately local council tax payers, about £84,000 (£1.20 for each bin).
The borough's strategic manager street services Michael Moon said: "The cost to fit these once these bins have been delivered is much higher and logistically difficult to do."
Bournemouth council hailed the first day of its new kerbside re-cycling scheme a success with about 36 tonnes of recyclable materials (eight truckloads) collected.
A spokesman said: "There have been some problems with the wrong material in the bins and we realise that everyone needs to get used to the new system. We would like to thank everyone for their efforts."
But not everyone was happy with the new bin collection service. Les Hedden from Northbourne Avenue said: "Our literature told us to put out our new bin out today instead of Friday as normal.
"We did as the council asked to be informed that the literature was wrong and we should leave our bins on Friday.
"The council blamed the leaflet distribution company but they employed them - it's a joke."
Council spokesman Pete Field said last night: "We can tell if a bin has a chip in it if we scan the bin but if it hasn't, we can't prove who took it out.
"We merely won't be able to return the bin if it is lost and we find it. By taking the chip out, all people have done is removed their access to an improved service.
"We would ask that members of the public do not take apart or tamper with their bins and would remind householders that it is their responsibility to ensure that bins are in a fit state to be emptied."
(c) Daily Echo 2006
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