Monday, 14 September 2009

Catch 22 - The Sequel...

And this one is quite delicious in its fusing of rapacious private company twinned with council intransigence and utter incompetence:
With its emphasis on re-using old materials or selling them as scrap, Mark Howard's bicycle shop is a model of environmental efficiency.

So you might have imagined that his local council would be grateful to him for enhancing the area's green credentials.

But instead the father of four has been hit with a £180 fine - because officers refuse to believe he doesn't create any commercial waste.
It gets better.

You see, Southend Council contract out their waste collection to their contractors, Cory, who arrange for a certificate when businesses pay them £80 to supply 50 commercial waste bags to be collected. Mr Howard doesn't have any waste, so doesn't require a certificate.

In just the same way that having no TV license because you don't have a TV blows the minds of the morons that run the collection service for the Beeb, this does not compute with Cory or the council! This is unpossible!

Mr Howard decided that the best thing he could do was explain this. And that's when the fun started:
When he rang up to explain, no one believed that he did not use the service and he was told that someone would visit his premises.

'An officer came round a week later but he didn't look round or ask any questions,' he said. 'He just handed me another letter which said I must pay a fixed penalty.

'They didn't give me a chance to show them what I do - which is better than the council contractor's service because their waste goes to landfill.'
I'm sure, if I have older Russian readers, they will be nodding thoughtfully to themselves here, and reminiscing a bit...
...'Despite repeated calls I was fobbed off all the time. I have tried to get an interview with the director of the department but nothing has happened. This is totally stupid. The council must have money to burn because they want this case to go to court.

'I'm not some environmental fruitcake trying to save the world. I'm just an ordinary person using my brain to avoid waste. But they don't seem to care.'
Of course they don't. They just want to ensure they've ticked all the boxes, and the possibility of someone not fitting into those boxes, well...let's just say arguing with them is like arguing with some nut who thinks the USA never went to the Moon.

You can't win, and you'll only get a headache.
Southend Council yesterday defended its actions. Simon Crowther, group manager for waste, said: 'Mr Howard is required under the Environmental (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 to produce evidence as to how he legally and lawfully disposes of commercial waste under his control.

'Mr Howard has been issued with a fixed-penalty fine due to the fact he failed to provide this evidence.'
Because he doesn't have any waste to dispose of, you utter cretins...


Anonymous said...

4 simple words:

See you in court.

Anonymous said...

aljahom - I wish I shared your optimism.

I am currently embroiled in a civil court case; so far the court administrators have mislaid my original submissions for three months, sent all the vital documentation to the wrong address (and into oblivion) and refused a judgement because I failed to provide receipts for August - in an application submitted in June.

If Mr Howard thinks he's got problems with the council, just wait until he encounters the judiciary!

Clarissa said...

So this is what the story behind the Echo billboard headline I saw last week. How silly of me to think I can't have read that right...

Would you care to guess which is the dominant party on the council Julia? I don't think you'll need three tries.

Macheath said...

I'd love to know how much straight-to-landfill waste is generated by Southend Council itself.

Does this make Cory's £80 charge protection money?
"Pay up, or the council will prosecute."

sobers said...

This sort of thing is nothing to do with recycling, or promoting environmentalism, it is a protection racket, pure and simple.

Pay us the money to get a piece of paper that shows 'compliance' with 'the law' and its all OK. Refuse to pay up and we send the heavy mob round. In this case the council.

Personally I think I'd rather deal with the Mob. At least they don't dress up their extortion as 'enforcing the law' or some such legalistic bullsh1t.

Its all about the money. Pay the £80 for the bags in the first place (and never use them) and all would be OK. Try and get out of paying and you get the full treatment.

You have to ask yourself whether its worth taking on the council in these sort of cases. They are probably right legally, and even if they weren't, it would take years of court cases, and tens of thousands of pounds, to prove it. Do you really want to have the all the jobsworths in the council descending on you if you stick your head above the parapet?

It is worth noting that each area will have a tip that takes commercial waste. It would be worth ringing them to ask how much they would charge for waste delivered to their site. I do this for my business. You are legally entitled to transport your own waste to a tip without a waste carriers licence. It might work out cheaper than £80 worth of plastic bags. They will also give you an invoice which is proof you have disposed of your waste legally.

A Nation Of Shopkeepers said...

@aljahom, the problem is that it's the Magistrate's (Criminal) Court that deals with any local authority prosecutions, not the Civil Courts. Believe me, you don't want that grief.

@Sobers has the solution;in my case c.£40 (for 25 trade refuse bages) + a 'Trade Waste Agreement' buys me twelve months 'peace'. It is irritating having to spend even a penny more than the already excessive business rates, but better that than having local authority upstarts exercising their excessive environmental powers upon me.

NB. We no longer offer cardboard boxes to customers however, just in case they dump them and we get fined for flytipping, or even arrested for it!

NNB. My local authority asks "...Please recycle as much of your waste as possible...", although I wouldn't care to be offering this as a defence in court!

Joe Public said...

Of course he's got waste to dispose of.

There's that "Fixed Penalty" notice the council gave him.

wv: "coning" - cunning, or, conning??

JuliaM said...

"4 simple words:

See you in court."

And I really, really hope he does. And wins.

But as anon points out, with our legal system, that's not a foregone conclusion even if it does fly in the face of all common sense.

"Would you care to guess which is the dominant party on the council Julia?"

I don't think I'll need one try!

Though, these days, they all seem to be much of a muchness. Particularly when it comes to ecowibble and the possibility of turning a profit from it...

JuliaM said...

"Does this make Cory's £80 charge protection money? "

Yes, and I agree with sobers. I'd rather deal with the Mob too!

At least they are honest thugs trying to make a living, rather than jumped up little watermelons rubbing themselves into a frenzy of control-freakery.

blueknight said...

If the Council don't see sense, he should complain to the Ombudsman.

JuliaM said...

He seems the type who might just decide to take a stand and do that. Let's hope it doesn't wreck his health like it did for the Metric Martyr...