ALL 70,000 new wheelie bins delivered to Bournemouth households HAVE been tagged with hidden "bugs", the Daily Echo can reveal.

The council has confirmed the presence of "passive" electronic devices after dozens of residents carried out their own investigations and discovered the chips.

The news has sparked accusations that the council is acting "like Big Brother" while furious councillors have demanded to know why they were kept in the dark.

Cllr Ron Whittaker, who represents Throop and Muscliff, said: "This is absolute madness. Council officers have gone overboard.

"Who is running the show, elected members or council officers? Once again, information has been kept from us. I am absolutely livid."

Even council leader Cllr Richard Smith, who told the Echo at the weekend the scheme sounded like something from George Orwell's 1984, was unaware the chips had been fitted.

The Bournemouth bins are among 500,000 in the country fitted with the tiny devices, which have a unique serial number that can be scanned as the bin is emptied.

In a statement yesterday, the council said the microchips were "nothing to worry about" and that refuse lorries did not currently have the technology to scan the bins.

But the secrecy surrounding the chip installation has angered residents.

Jeni Stocks, of Queens Park, said: "I really do object to this. I feel it's against my human rights."

Paul Millington, who lives in Southbourne, said: "I don't like the idea at all.

"How can something like this happen without the leader of the council knowing anything about it?"

Michael West, of Boscombe Manor, said: "This is a flagrant abuse of power and it is time for us to say enough is enough."

Neil MacKay, of Pokesdown, said: "If this chip is there to monitor how many times the bin is emptied, that's fine. If it's there as a way of raising taxes in the future then it's not."

Cllr David Clutterbuck, who represents East Cliff and Springbourne, is also demanding answers: "How many bins have been fitted with a bugging device and what is the penalty if you find one and take it out?" he asked.

The council statement said: "The microchip' is a passive chip and each contains a unique number to be allocated to a property.

"The new bins delivered have a chip already contained within the bin as these are fitted at the point of manufacture.

"In the future we could fit the technology to new refuse vehicles which will enable us to record the time of emptying and the weight of the bin.

"Should we decide to proceed with this technology, the microchips will help speed up data collection.

"We already collect data so that we are aware of exactly how much waste is being produced within Bournemouth but this new technology would enable us to monitor such things as tonnages collected far more efficiently and see the trends quickly. It would not be there to monitor bins on an individual basis. The microchips would also enable stolen or misplaced bins to be easily identified and returned to the correct house."