Council bosses are considering charging people to replace stolen wheelie bins despite North Ayrshire having the highest theft rates in Scotland. 

People can currently get a replacement for free if they report it stolen to the police but it costs more than £40 to buy a new one. 

This comes after repeated issues of bins being stolen, and often set on fire, over the years with the problem particularly persistant in Pennyburn.

Cllr Jimmy Miller told the Police and Fire and Rescue Committee that North Ayrshire had the highest number of reported stolen bins in Scotland with the problem costing the council £77,000 annually. 

The Labour politician said there is a North Ayrshire Council proposal to make residents pay for the nicked bins. 

The new cost is part of budget proposals, which have not been given-the go-ahead yet. 

Police Chief Inspector Brian Shaw said residents can currently order a free bin from the council if they report it to officers and receive a crime reference number. 

The North Ayrshire area commander urged people not to leave them out too long and said bins can lie on pavements for days. 

He said: “It would be terrific if people would take their bins back in.”

Commenting on the amount of missing bins, Councillor Miller said: “There must be a field somewhere full of bins.”

Councillors discussed the number of deliberate fires over recent months. 

There were 518 deliberate fires in North Ayrshire between April 1 and December 31 last year. 

The meeting heard bins being set alight and grass blazes were among the fires started intentionally. 
Most of them took place in Stevenston – with 125 deliberate blazes in the area.

Councillor Miller said: “There is a big issue in Stevenston. Everytime we get this report the Stevenston ward sticks out in your face.”

Dalry and West Kilbride Councillor Todd Ferguson, Conservative, said it is about education in schools to help prevent incidents.

Fire Area Commander Ian McMeekin said there is no quick fix but crews are engaging people to deal with the problem.

He said action plans are in place and the fire service is working with key partners.