3:00am Friday 12th April 2013
By Alexa Copeland
A MOTHER has branded a council’s advice “laughable” after being told to return discarded hypodermic needles to the street where they were found.
Sandra Watson’s seven-year-old son Kian found the two needles in a hedgerow near his Skerne Park home in Darlington while playing with his cousin, Owen, five.
The youngsters picked them up and took them home to Miss Watson who phoned Darlington Council to ask for them to be collected and disposed of safely.
She was surprised to be told return the needles to the street - otherwise she would be charged for their collection.
Darlington Council last night conceded that in the interests of safety, council workers should have collected the needles from her home.
Miss Watson said: “I couldn’t believe it.
“They told me put the needles in an envelope and put them back on the street so that the Street Scene people could find them, because if they came and collected them from me then I would get charged for it.
“I asked them whether they were joking because it was just so laughable.
“I said that if I put them back outside, that is putting other kids at risk, which seemed wrong to me.
“There are always kids playing in the street, surely it is more appropriate for the council workers to knock on my door and collect the needles rather than leaving them in the street?”
Acting on the council’s advice, Miss Watson returned the needles to where they were found and said she watched from her window until council workers removed them about an hour later.
A spokeswoman for Darlington Council confirmed that the authority should not have asked Miss Watson to put the needles back outside.
She said: "We understand the lady was asked to put the needles outside for us to collect.
“Given the fact her children had found the needles and she had brought them in to her home for safety whilst contacting us, we should have asked her to keep them within her home until we could collect them.
“She should not have been asked to put them back outside.”
Darlington Council’s policy on collecting hypodermic needles is that the Street Scene team will pick them up for free, but not from residential or commercial addresses where used needles are generated and use is prolific.
Miss Watson said she was just pleased that no children were pricked by the needles – especially her son and nephew who were excited about finding them and had intended to play ‘doctors’ with them before she snatched them away.
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