PRISONERS will not be sent on the bin rounds in a Fylde village amid fears they pose a risk to residents.
Rural Elswick was beset by problems caused by people living at a local bail hostel in the early 1990s and Coun Paul Hayhurst fears similar issues could arise if inmates are working on the bins.
Fylde Council currently has one serving prisoner from Kirkham Prison working full-time on its refuse team, but Coun Hayhurst has sought assurances they will not be sent to Elswick.
The long-serving councillor said: “They may be used elsewhere but they will not be used in Elswick. I’m totally for the rehabilitation of offenders but the point is we have had a bad experience here.
“We used to use men from the bail hostel and it was only when things went wrong we realised we couldn’t do that.”
And Coun Hayhurst said the fact a prisoner had recently absconded from Kirkham Prison proved fears in the village were justified.
Lester Jackson – serving a murder sentence after bludgeoning a man to death – has been on the run for more than two weeks after failing to turn up at a work placement in St Annes.
Elswick resident John Rowe also remembers the problems caused by the bail hostel, when he said burglaries became an “expected part of everyday life”.
Parish councillor Mr Rowe added: “It may be the case they have been vetted by someone who assumes it is safe to allow them to visit every house in the borough, but common sense surely says otherwise – why take that risk?
“After all, shortly after The Gazette reported prisoners were employed collecting household bins, a convicted murderer – who was deemed suitable for employment – absconded.”
And Mr Rowe said he believed there were other jobs – such as litter picking on main roads or painting roadside railings away from residential areas – which could be carried out by prisoners.
He added: “This is not a matter of ‘nimby-ism’, it is about avoiding unnecessary risk.”
But Andrew Crane, landlord of village pub The Boot and Shoe Inn, on Beech Road, believes offenders being sent out to work can only be a good thing.
He said: “Personally I think it’s good they’ve got them working. I don’t see how it can possibly do any harm.”
The council did have two prisoners – who got their jobs through a fair, open interview and selection process – working on their bin rounds.
However, one has now been released after reaching the end of his sentence.
A council spokesman said: “That prisoner is not and never has been on the Elswick round.
“The chief executive has told Coun Hayhurst there will be no prisoners working in Elswick.”