CALLS have been made to stop prisoners from working on bin rounds.
The Gazette revealed this week how two HMP Kirkham inmates had been employed as fully-paid members of staff to work as refuse collectors for Fylde Council – after more than 40 people applied for the posts.
Now, furious Elswick and Little Eccleston councillor Paul Hayhurst says he will challenge the move at the authority’s next full council meeting.
He said: “Councillors were not consulted on this.
“We fully support the rehabilitation of offenders but not in this area.
“Every day it seems we hear about a prisoner – deemed not to be a risk by an expert – who commits an horrendous crime.
“And it’s very wrong we employed these men when we have an ever-growing queue of people looking for work.
“I’ll be raising the issue at the next full council meeting and asking the chief executive to remove these men from the crews in Elswick and Little Eccleston.
“I’ve no problem with these prisoners working to remove sand or in other areas away from homes.”
The prisoners involved are classified as category D and have both secured a three-month fixed term contract.
One of them has been released from prison since being given the job and the other is due for release in March.
Coun Albert Pounder, portfolio holder for operational services and partnerships for Fylde Council, said: “The men were eligible to apply for paid employment at the end of their sentence as part of their preparation for coming out.
“They were interviewed in fair and open competition with other people. There was no preferential treatment.”
Coun Pounder added that when a prisoner is paid a wage, part of their income goes to victim support and another portion is saved for when they are released.
He added: “We are happy to support rehabilitation. They are both performing well and should be allowed to get on with their lives.”
The unemployment figure in Fylde has reached 1,087, rising 100 in the past year.
Steve Pye of the Federation of Small Businesses told The Gazette: “It would have been a noble idea a few years ago, but because of the current economic downturn, it’s not such a good idea at this moment in time.”