Pamela Holmes was fined £400 and was told she could face a maximum fine of £50,000 if she decided to go to court. She said she feared she would be arrested when a warden showed up at her home
A grandmother has been fined £400 by a “jobsworth” council warden after leaving a box outside her home for her son to collect and take to the tip.
Pamela Holmes placed the 4ft 6ins by 4ft 6ins cardboard packaging for a hot tub lid on the grass verge outside her semi-detached property in the village of Burton, Dorset.
Her son was due to swing by the next day to pick it up and dispose of it.
But she said that overnight someone reported the box and at 9.30am on Thursday an official arrived at her doorstep.
The retired secretary said the officer “read her her rights” and she feared she was about to be arrested during the doorstep discussion.
He gave her a £400 penalty notice, warning her that if she refused to pay the fine within four weeks she would be taken to court and be liable to a maximum fine of £50,000.
Mrs Holmes said she does not want to pay the fine but she also does not want to go to court and get a criminal record as this would embarrass one of her sons, who is a detective sergeant with Dorset Police.
She said she was left “spitting feathers” after the encounter and that if she had been fly-tipping, she would not have dumped something outside her own home with her name and address on it.
Mrs Holmes, 69, believes she was an “easy target” for the official and claimed the council have previously taken days to respond to much bigger incidents of fly-tipping in the area.
She said: “The hot tub lid came on Tuesday and we put the cardboard box on the verge outside the house on Wednesday late afternoon so my son could swing by and pick it up to take to the tip.
“However, at 9.30am an official from BCP Council knocked on my door. He said there had been a report of fly-tipping and asked if the box outside was mine.
“I said yes and he read me my rights. I thought I was going to be arrested. He said if I go to court I could be fined up to £50,000.”
She added: “I explained that I had left the box there for my son to pick up and he said, in light of my explanation, he was prepared to leave the matter at a fixed penalty notice.
“When he said it would be for £400, I nearly fainted. The fine has cost almost as much as the hot tub lid.
“I tried to tell him that I was not fly-tipping and, if I was, why would I leave something outside my own house with my name and address on it.”
Local resident Sarah Boyce posted on social media: “So it takes BCP days on end to do anything about ‘proper’ flytipping and yet you’ve had this within a few hours. I know we all want flytipping tackled but this does seem somewhat disproportionate.”
Ryan Watts posted: “Poor lady’s got a £400 fine because some nosey b * d thinks she’s fly tipped a package with her name on, outside her own house.”
BCP Council stood by its decision to issue the fixed penalty notice as Mrs Holmes had “left a large item of waste on a grass verge and public land”.
They said there had been reports of increased fly-tipping in the area and Mrs Holmes has been told she can appeal the sanction.
A BCP Council spokesperson said: “Our contractors, Waste Investigations Support & Enforcement (WISE), administered the penalty notice on behalf of the council to the resident who had left the large item of waste on a grass verge and public land.
“This was in response to concerns raised in the area about an increase in fly-tipping and officers had advised the resident to follow the appeals process as outlined on the notice should they feel this is incorrect.
“Our action on fly-tipping has increased significantly across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole since August with the partnership clamping down on instances of domestic or commercial waste to make our communities and streets cleaner.
“Inappropriate waste management threatens our environment, climate and public finances and people must act responsibly to help all residents, businesses and visitors in our area.”
Councillor Mark Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment, added: “Flytipping is a growing problem for councils across the country which is why we take tough action on flytipping.
“Between August 2021 and December 2021, BCP Council has issued 114 fixed penalty notices for fly tipping offences.
“Not only is it illegal, but it can also cause significant environmental issues and adversely impacts the local landscape.
“In addition, flytipping can create mental health issues for people living next to areas where flytipping is more prolific, so it’s vitally important that we tackle this issue head on.
“We want our city region to be world class – one of the best coastal places in the world in which to live, work, invest and play, and as part of our Cleaner, Greener, Safer campaign this pilot will help us work towards this goal.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.