8 February 2018

Fly ticketing in Barnet

The council in their mid-term budgeting papers going before the Policy & Resources Committee next Tuesday, 13 February, plan to close some of their budget gap & make more money by issuing even more penalties for fly tipping & littering. Prosecutions are rare for fly tipping but plenty of fixed penalties are being dished out for minor matters to soft targets.

Here is an email that Mr Mustard has just received:

I am hoping you can help me resolve a dilemma similar to the ones described on your website about ludicrous local council actions.

I live in Pimlico and engaged the services of a professional organiser who took some donations to a charity shop in North Finchley, near where she lives. They accepted the items, and she specifically remembers them accepting a ceramic ornament which was donated in a padded envelope to protect it.

A week later I received a fixed penalty notice from Barnet Council claiming that I had committed the act of fly tipping this envelope, along with some boxes and clothes (I had not donated any boxes or clothes).  I explained the situation, and also provided proof that I had been elsewhere at the time and date of the incident.  The envelope is the only evidence linking me to the waste as I know they have no CCTV footage of me, since I did not fly tip! However, they rejected my claim, stating that they had my name and address on the envelope.  Surely this envelope does not provide sufficient proof that I am guilty of fly tipping?

Furthermore, if the ceramic ornament was accepted by the charity shop, does safe disposal of the envelope not become the responsibility of the charity shop?
I'd be very grateful for any advice you have, and think that Barnet Council's unreasonable aggression deserves wider attention.

Ludicrous doesn't even begin to describe this situation.

The writer, let us call her Ms P, lives in Pimlico, does not have a car, works as a private tutor and is in her thirties.

Mr Mustard's observations:

How likely is it that Ms P would come all the way to Barnet from Pimlico to dump a padded envelope?

Once the goods were taken by the professional organiser they were no longer the property of Ms P. and so she is not liable for what happened to them afterwards. It was a reasonable belief that a professional organiser would not litter.

The padded envelope possibly fell out of the charity shop's bin when being emptied 
they gave it to a customer to protect a fragile item and that customer threw it away
someone went through their bins looking for anything they could turn into money.

The council cannot prove that Ms P visited Barnet.

Equally they cannot prove that the item was dumped by Ms P.

The council cannot prove that all of the dumped items were dumped at the same time.

The council, or perhaps their enforcement agent NSL, refuse to listen to reason because revenue is the main attraction of issuing penalties for enforcement.

Councils have too much power and cannot be trusted with it. All penalty income should go to central government in order to break the link between enforcement and revenue.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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