Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bizarre events-Fined for putting rubbish in bin

A man has been fined $50 for putting rubbish in a bin. Andy Tierney of Hinckley, Leicestershire was issued the fixed penalty notice for dumping two junk mail letters. Hinckley and Bosworth Council accused him of committing "an offense under Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Domestic refuse from your property was dumped into a street litter bin the fixed penalty is $50."

The council classes letters as "domestic litter", which should not be dropped in public street bins. According to BBC Radio news and The Sun, Andy said, "How on earth can they fine me for being tidy? It's absolute madness. I could have easily chucked those letters on the ground, but I put them in the bin. What has happened is a joke. The council is barmy. I never thought you could be fined for putting rubbish in a bin - that's what they're there for."

Andy was walking from his house to his car when his postman handed him the junk mail. He opened both letters as he strolled - then dumped them in the bin on a lamppost. Council officials traced him from the addresses on the envelopes and issued the penalty. The letter threatens Andy with further action and a conviction if he does not pay within 14 days. Andy insisted, "There's absolutely no way I'm paying up. You get fined for chucking rubbish on the ground. You get fined for chucking rubbish in the bin. So what exactly are you supposed to do?"

A spokesman from the council said, "A fixed penalty notice is served to people who we believe have committed an offence. Our litter bins are there to keep streets tidy, as they enable the public to deposit small amounts of litter. They are not provided for household waste."

It gets worse - the council routinely search rubbish. (Reported in the Times)
Today I can reveal the other side to the story, the council抯 side. And the great thing is that it makes the council look even more fatuous than it did last Thursday when Tierney contacted his local newspaper to complain about the fine.

The council now alleges that Tierney did not deposit just two letters in the litter bin, but a whole sack of domestic rubbish. Tierney denies the imputation: They're just trying to save face. They have been made to look stupid, so they come up with this. Why didn't they say that on Thursday?

Quite; but more to the point, how did they know that this black bag full of domestic rubbish had been deposited by Tierney unless, that is, they pay someone to rifle through the garbage with the sole purpose of persecuting rubbish-placement transgressors? Well, of course, on cross-examination it transpires that this is exactly what they spend your council tax on. Rubbish placement transgressor inspectors.

If we find a black bin bag in a litter bin, we will sift through the rubbish and attempt to identify who put it there, a council employee told me, with great patience, as if this were a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The refuse disposal man will identify a black bag and then report it to his supervisor and a decision will be made to examine the contents of the bag and, upon identifying the miscreant, issue a fixed penalty notice. You couldn't make this up and, luckily, I didn't have to.

There are other eternally vigilant people employed by Hinckley and Bosworth borough council whose job it is to persecute the residents who pay their wages. These are called neighbourhood wardens the eyes and ears of the local community, according to the council spokeswoman.

It was one of these individuals who espied Tierney putting some litter in a bin and quickly filed a report. So they have people paid to walk the streets and make sure you don't put letters in a litter bin and other people employed to sift through your rubbish and fine you if you do. Possibly people like you and I, possibly weird people whom you would not wish to sit next to at dinner.

The average council tax charge in Hinckley and Bosworth is 1,242.97 a year. Council tax charges have risen by about 100% nationally over the past decade. This is a small price for such extraordinary vigilance, such devotion to the cause. Quite what the cause is remains a mystery.


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