How did they collect them previously? Did the bin men have to go down the alley and through your neighbour's garden? Which multiplied by however many houses they are collecting from seems incredibly inefficient for them.
We also have to put ours out the front, although its more of a seagull problem than cats so we just cover them with an old blanket to stop them getting ripped open.
I have to pull my recycling bin ALL the way through my terraced house which I hate (not allowed to leave out) (its a wheelie bin) but general waste is collected from the back lane. Apparantly the recycling lorry cannot get down the lane though could that be the case with you. I did suggest that we could take our recycling bins to the top of the lane rather than drag them through the house, and the council were like 'yeah, right, stick em out the front you imbecile'. Well almost. Maybe your council could answer your questions in a more helpful manner?
<Disclaimer: I know Im lucky to have an actual bin!>