Daily Mail Claims of Snooping are ‘Rubbish’ says Swindon Council

Swindon Borough Council fought back today after the Daily Mail published a story which may suggest Swindon Council has  run covert bin-raiding operations against the towns residents. Excerpt from todays Mail story:

“At least 90 councils ran covert bin-rifling operations last year, according to Freedom of Information requests.  They targeted a total of more than 10,000 families and argue that Government guidance suggested all checks on bins should be done without the knowledge of householders.

‘Ideally, you do not want to inform the public of an audit taking place, as this could alter their disposal behaviour,’ it said, but the secret nature of the audits will raise concerns about privacy.

Although some councils used their staff to conduct the operations, many hired in private contractors.

Often, officials deliberately picked streets where different types of men and women lived to see if their ethnic origins, type of home or wealth affected the amount or rubbish they threw out.

Councils in Leeds, Poole, Kensington and Chelsea, Swindon and Cheshire East all used some form of social profiling to target homes for bin searches.”

Swindon Council, (or as seems more likely – Rod Bluh and band of merry chums), are incensed and wasted no time in angrily denying that they’ve been secretively furtling through our discards. The official denial.


“A story in today’s Daily Mail suggests that Swindon Borough Council has been searching through wheelie bins put out by individual households.

This is completely untrue.

A contractor employed by the Council has in fact been analysing waste from entire bin lorry loads made up, on average, of eight tonnes of waste from up to 1000 houses.

This makes it impossible to see what is being thrown away by any individual or address.

The Council has been examining general wheelie bin waste as part of its research into a waste to energy plant, which will be built to generate electricity and produce fuel pellets for sale to other energy companies.

It is important that the Council understands the nature of the waste that will be fed into the plant, which was the main purpose of the research.”

The problem is…..that Bluh and Co have a track record of being secretive, uncommunicative and obstructive when asked the simplest of questions so the allegation of snooping will be easy to believe for many.  I also can’t help but think Swindon Council has over-reacted to:  “Councils in Leeds, Poole, Kensington and Chelsea, Swindon and Cheshire East all used some form of social profiling to target homes for bin searches”.

I think I’d like to see the original FOI request and the reply from Swindon Council before judging whether there’s some weaselling going on, because, I’m sure I do remember a local newspaper story about ‘enforcement officers’ from Swindon Council inspecting bin contents of householders they believed were not separating their recycling from regular rubbish.

If I can find the story I’ll be back….

Posted on
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
Filed under:
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