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St Helens arsonist 'torched 60 wheelie bins over two months'
A PROLIFIC arsonist was suspected of torching around 60 wheelie bins across the town during two months last year, it has emerged.
The spree was revealed as it emerged St Helens Council is losing £50,000 every year to replace stolen or burned out wheelie bins.
A serial offender is believed to have set dozens of the plastic bins ablaze in November and December last year.
Although, no one has been brought to justice for the entire fire spree, an offender was prosecuted for a small number of blazes last year that could be proved against him.
A meeting of St Helens Council’s Safer Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel looked into the problem of deliberate fires after the estimated number rose from 549 in 2012/2013 to 973 in 2013/2014.
Such fires are said to be small in scale but are often started in piles of rubbish, discarded furniture or foliage.
Rises in numbers also matches periods of dry weather.
Sara Garside from Merseyside Fire Service told the panel: “There was a problem in Four Acre with a spate of 12 in just one week.
“We had a meeting with the police and Helena Housing to discuss a plan of action. We spoke to community groups to see if anyone would be responsible to monitor the bins and keep an eye on them.
“Fire crews and PCOs would do the same, telling people to take their bins in.
“Up to now in April things haven’t been too bad compared to this time last year when we had around 25 secondary fires in the district although the majority were grass fires rather than wheelie bins.”
She explained a further problem caused by the arson attacks: “When the bins have melted down onto the tarmac it has to be replaced. Then another bin is burned so it happens again and again.” Proposals will be put before the council to ensure that the work to tackle the issue continues.
Among the main points are:
- Encouraging shop owners to stop selling disposable BBQs to youngsters under 18s.
- For fire service to continue to educate pupils at primary and secondary schools about the dangers of fire.
- That the council ensure that any further reduction in their budget does not impact on their rubbish collections.
- That the council continues to publicise the free bulky waste collection scheme.
- That a neighbourhood warden scheme be introduced in areas of previous arson attacks.
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