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Stockton MP urges rethink over axing of riverside litter bins

River Tees
The Canal and River Trust is removing more than 50 bins in Stockton

The government has been urged to intervene after a charity blamed the removal of dozens of litter bins along the River Tees on funding cuts.

The Canal and River Trust said it could no longer afford the annual £30,000 cost to maintain the bins in Stockton.

Alex Cunningham, the town's Labour MP, said the area would become "untidy" and "unwelcoming to visitors".

The government said it had already awarded the trust "a significant £550m in funding" and was "supporting them".

The trust empties, cleans and disposes of waste in the bins on land it owns beside canals and rivers.

Earlier this month, it said it expected the receptacles to go in the "next few months", and blamed the loss of government grants, which it said had left it with "soaring costs".

Mr Cunningham said he had written to Environment Secretary Therese Coffey and asked her to review the decision to reduce £300m in funding.

"Make no mistake, the decision of the Conservative government... has resulted in the trust having to make massive cuts to its own services in order to maintain our cherished waterways," he said.

"However, the decision to remove all of the Canal and River Trust-maintained bins on the Stockton riverside is the wrong one."

He said the charity's plea to visitors to take rubbish home with them would be ineffective, adding he was appealing to the charity to reverse its decision.

'Alternative funding'

Councillors have already urged the charity to reconsider its decision.

"It is such a gem in our area and we do not want rubbish around the place," Paul Rowling, representing the Stockton town centre ward, said.

"Council taxpayers' money should not be used to pay for services on private land, which the landowner has a legal duty to provide."

A spokesperson for Defra said the government "recognised the benefits" canals across the country bring to "local communities".

They said when the charity was established in 2012, it "agreed to increasingly move towards alternative sources of funding".

They said the government was already supporting them with a further £590m up to 2037 and had been communicating with the charity "for some time" on how it could increase income from other sources.

Sean McGinley, a director at the Canal and River Trust, said it had sought local funding options to "adequately service the bins", which were unsuccessful.

He previously said the charity had been hit with the "huge expense" and the area made up for a third of its annual cost (£90,000) across Yorkshire and the North East.

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