Litter bins removed by council ‘to help keep Enfield tidy’

Enfield Council has removed dozens of litter bins because it says they had become a “focal point” for fly-tipping

Bolts in the pavement show where a litter bin has been removed in Grange Park
Bolts in the pavement show where a litter bin has been removed in Grange Park

Dozens of bins have been removed from Enfield’s streets over the last year as part of an effort by the council to “address the root cause of persistent rubbish dumping”.

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act reveals that 35 street litter bins were removed by Enfield Council throughout 2023, while seven were installed.

The issue of disappearing bins was first raised by Conservative councillor Ruby Sampson, who had noticed several going missing and wrote about her concerns over this in a councillor’s column published by the Dispatch last month.

Asked to explain what was happening, a council spokesperson said: “We review the use of litter bins in certain locations especially following complaints that a bin is not being used for its intended purpose, for example litter and where people are filling them with larger items such as black bags.

“A street litter bin may also be removed by the council if it is regularly abused by shops or employees from commercial premises.

“In some locations, litter bins are also a focal point for the fly-tipping of bulky waste items. It has been seen that by removing some bins from these locations, the council can address the root cause of a persistent rubbish dumping problem.

“The council’s street cleansing operatives who would empty bins in areas where they have been removed, monitor the locations closely and regularly to ensure they are kept clean and litter free.”

The FOI request to the council asked how many litter bins were in place across the borough in each of the last five years, but in its response the council claimed not to hold this data itself and instead referred to a survey undertaken by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy in July 2022, which “indicated there were 1,021 bins on the public highway in the borough of Enfield”.

The council was, however, able to state how many bins had been removed and installed since the time of the Keep Britain Tidy survey, giving a total of 37 removed and 13 installed – with nearly all of the removals happening last year.

Asked to react to the data, Cllr Sampson said: “It’s amazing that the council’s record-keeping is so bad that it must rely on Keep Britain Tidy for this information instead of its own data.

“It’s unsurprising and disappointing that Enfield has had a net loss of 24 public litter bins in 18 months. Where are the missing 24 bins that the council has removed and failed to replace?

“Again and again, I have asked the council if any community engagement has happened prior to the removal of a bin. The council ignore this question because, I imagine, the answer is none. It is not good enough that tax-paying residents are losing out on community assets without being consulted.”

Since November, the council has been taking a new approach to its street cleaning service, with a dedicated street sweeper assigned to every ward in the borough. In addition to sweeping and collecting litter, the staff remove overgrown weeds and report fly-tipping to the team responsible for investigation and clearance of large, dumped items.

The council spokesperson added: “Over recent years, there has only been a very small number of litter bins removed (circa 2%) with some additional bins also being installed.

“The driver for the service is to reduce rubbish dumping and have the right litter bins in the right places to help keep Enfield clean and tidy.”