Up to 60% of Brighton ‘fly-tipping’ fines are issued to businesses using the wrong bin, new figures suggest

Posted On 02 Feb 2018 at 1:51 pm

Six in ten fines for so-called fly-tipping by Brighton and Hove last year were issued to commercial organisations, many of whom will have been simply using the wrong bin.

Stock image of woman putting cardboard box in bin by Steve Leith on Flickr

In recent weeks, a series of small Brighton businesses have spoken out about being fined £300 for putting tiny amounts of cardboard in communal recycling bins, not knowing that this was against the law. Some have also been hit with another £300 fine for not having a waste management plan in place.

Last year, it was revealed that the city council, in partnership with private contractor 3GS, had issued 276 fines for fly-tipping from May 2016 to May 2017. But this week, it said the number of fines in the last year had soared to 787 – with about 480 being issued to commercial organisations.

3GS, who keep a portion of revenues from the fines, were previously criticised when they first started working in Brighton for picking on young smokers who dropped butts, with 68% of fines issued in the first six months for cigarette waste.

One woman who was fined said she felt intimidated by the officers, and felt that micro businesses such as hers were being targeted as a soft touch.

And she added that the waste management company she contacted afterwards told her that scores of businesses had been in touch recently after receiving similar fines.

Joy Flowers, who makes handmade dog collars under the name Scrufts from her home in Havelock Road, said: “I had no idea. I took three cardboard boxes up to Hollingbury recycling centre on Thursday, January 11 and by 10am the next day I had two environmental enforcement officers knocking at my door asking if I was Joy Flowers and asking do I have a waste management officer and did you take three boxes to the recycling centre yesterday?

“I felt completely intimidated. In my world, if you have done something unintentionally wrong, then someone tells you and you address it and you don’t do it any more. But there’s no way of appealing the ticket through 3GS.

“On average I have one cardboard box every six weeks. Now I have to collect it through the year until it’s enough for a commercial waste company to take away.

“Sole traders like me are a soft touch.”

Other traders who have spoken out in recent weeks include vegan beard oil maker Neil Masey and cushion maker Alison Mapletoft, who were both fined a total of £600 for throwing away a couple of cardboard boxes and not having a waste management plan.

Mr Masey, who was fined in November, said just before Christmas that one of the £300 fines was cancelled by the council after Green Cllr Pete West help him contest it, and he was preparing to go to court to fight the other.

A council spokesperson said: “Businesses, including those operating from home or mobile traders, are required by law to dispose of their own recycling and refuse as it is business waste. If businesses do use council bins or flytip their waste they will face fines if caught.

“We work closely with 3GS to ensure that fines are issued correctly and fairly, in line with government guidelines, and before issuing fines, we ensure we have all the details needed including interviews, photographs and video evidence.

The spokesperson added: “In a survey carried out last year 79% of people questioned were aware they can be issued a fine for littering in Brighton & Hove and 87% agreed or strongly agreed that fines should be stricter.

“In the last year we have issued 787 cases for fly-tipping with approximately 480 of these being issued to commercial organisations, with the number of complaints or people contesting, being less than 1 per cent.

“Anyone who feels they have been wrongly given a fixed penalty notice can make a representation to 3GS in the first instance. If they are still concerned, or wish to give more general feedback, they can write to the council.

“Any cases referred to the council are reviewed on an individual basis to ensure that fixed penalty notices are issued correctly.”

In a statement released in the wake of recent publicity, 3GS said: “Due to the nature of the offences we enforce, we are unable to discuss specific cases, however we would like to release the following statement.

“3GS is a responsible business involved in enforcing environmental legislation that criminalises offences such as littering, dog fouling, fly tipping, commercial waste and other enviro-crimes. This legislation has been in force since the Environmental Protection Act was first introduced in 1990.

“Our officers are professionally trained and we are confident that they carry out their duties responsibly and with humility. Where an offence is committed, we have a duty to deal with it in accordance with statutory legislation.

“We also have a duty to inform alleged offenders of the consequences of the offence when contacted, namely that they could receive a criminal offence or receive a significant fine if they choose not to discharge their liability.

“3GS prides itself on providing a balanced ethical service and work seamlessly with councils across the UK in supporting their refuse and recycling objectives that benefits all residents.”

  1. Ali Mapletoft Reply

    I’ve started a petition to terminate Brighton and Hove City Council 3GS contract after I was fined £600 by 3GS for 1 box put in the recycling by my husband. Peter Kyle & Caroline Lucas have commented in favour of a review. Sign the petition here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/brighton-hove-council-to-terminate-3gs-private-waste-enforcement-contract

  2. Alex Higgins Reply

    3GS are turning Brighton and Hove into a place of misery and are completely anti the spirit of our City. Treating local residents and businesses as criminals when we are very liberal, caring and law abiding citizens. Shame on whoever brought these peddlers of misery into our City. Lets put them in the bin.

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