News Walthamstow

More residents complain about ‘disproportionate’ fines

Multiple residents have received £400 fines after issues with their rubbish collection
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

More Waltham Forest residents have complained about receiving “disproportionate” fines after putting their rubbish out for collection.

Last month, a St James Street resident told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he felt “blackmailed” into paying fines he felt he wasn’t responsible for through the threat of criminal court proceedings.

Now Iona, an actor who lives above a row of shops on Chingford Road, Walthamstow, said she received a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for fly-tipping when she put out a bin bag on the wrong day.

Her fine, which she called “disproportionate for the situation”, was reduced to £150 after she contacted Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy and ward councillor Saima Mahmud for support.

She said: “You shouldn’t be fined for leaving rubbish in the allocated spot in the council approved bags, they were treating it like it was fly-tipping. 

“It makes it seem as though the council doesn’t care enough about residents or is trying to make a quick buck from them at a time when people are already stretched with bills.”

Father-of-two Scott Livingstone, who lives in Highams Park, was fined £400 after a large cardboard delivery box that he couldn’t fit in his recycling bin was found six doors away by enforcement officers.

Scott used to leave large recycling items between the bins on his drive or hand them directly to waste collection workers and did not know he was at risk of being fined.

When he received a letter from the council’s subcontracted enforcement agency, 3GS, a photograph showed a box with his address in a pile of rubbish six houses away from his front door.

He added: “I’ve got a feeling it’s something the street cleaners do, they move to one place to pick it up… why would I fly-tip that close to my home?

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“I don’t have a leg to stand on, my rubbish has inadvertently ended up off my property and I haven’t controlled it, in that respect there’s not much come back really – but it’s still not fair.

“It’s just a bit sickening that you have to pay that when prices are rising, think of all the different things we could have spent that £400 on. 

“If you’re guilty of fly-tipping you should be fined upwards of that, if you’re doing it in a malicious sort of way, but if it’s a misdemeanour like a parking fine it should be £200 or something.

“It would have been nice to just be warned, rather than out of the blue learning how much you can get fined for leaving some boxes out.”

The council declined to comment on this story, but clarified that the £400 fine is set by central government and that keeping streets clean from waste is a top priority for residents.

It is understood that Iona’s fine was reduced to a littering offence by the council’s neighbourhood team without the intervention of Stella Creasy or Cllr Mahmud.

Legally, householders may be committing a criminal offence if they do not take “all reasonable steps” to pass their waste to an “authorised person”.

The council’s deputy leader Clyde Loakes has previously said 3GS UK enforcement officers have “contributed significantly” in helping to keep the borough clean and tidy.

3GS won the enforcement contract for the borough in April last year when they offered the a slightly better cut of the fines they were paid than previous contract holder Kingdom LA.

Although the exact amount the council keeps is not specified, it earns at least 30% of each fine issued.

A Waltham Forest spokesperson previously revealed 3GS issued 1,322 FPNs between April and December 2021 but claim the amount paid to the council cannot be disclosed because it is “commercially sensitive”.

3GS and Stella Creasy have been contacted for comment but have not responded at time of publication.

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