A LOCAL authority leader has warned residents they may be fined if they do not respond to a new drive about contaminating household recycling bins.

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said if Pendle Council's education campaign failed to reduce the problem enforcement action would follow.

He spoke out after a new strategy on the issue aimed at cutting the the current 25.5 per cent contamination rate was approved by the boroughs Policy and Resources committee.

But the Labour politician's Conservative counterpart Cllr Nadeem Ahmed urged him to prioritise dialogue with householders above fines.

Other East Lancashire councils, notably Blackburn with Darwen, have been plagued with recycling bin contamination.

The officers report to the committee earlier this month said: “Data from Lancashire County Council shows Pendle’s contamination rates in the brown bin (glass, cans and plastics) have ranged from 20 per cent up to almost 34 per cent in the last two years, averaging out at 25.5 per cent. The main contaminant is paper, card and plastic film (bags).

“The paper and card collection scheme (blue bin) experiences around four per cent contamination however we regularly see loads rejected by LCC’s contractor and the material ends up in landfill. In 2019/20, 323 tonnes of paper/card went to landfill at a cost of around £43,000.

“Pendle council was awarded £17,250 to develop better systems of tackling contamination, employing a dedicated officer for six months.

“For a number of years we have had a Contamination Action Plan but our rates have not improved much.

“The temporary officer will revise the CAP. Originally we envisaged the officer working with crews and talking to householders and customers, but we need to adapt this into a more socially-distanced way of working in light of Covid-19. As part of the project the officer will enlist the support of the council’s communication team to produce messages and campaigns either specific to areas or target issues which are generic across all wards.’

The report says households where contamination occurs will be contacted by letter or phone to discuss how to solve the problem.

Cllr Iqbal said: “Contaminated bins are a real problem. We want to work with residents to educate them about recycling but if we fail to make progress the council will be taking enforcement action.”

Cllr Ahmed said: “I think we need to work with residents and educate them before issuing fines. It is difficult because of Covid but we need a better dialogue.”