I was fined £900 with my son, 11, for leaving cardboard by bin – I'm not paying

A MUM and her son received a £900 fine for leaving carboard by her bin – and she is refusing to pay up.

Pippa Gibbons from St Paul's, Bristol, was shocked to receive three letters threatening fines including one addressed to her 11-year-old son.

After five separate attempts to recycle three cardboard boxes, Pippa decided to place the boxes beside the full-up communal recycling bin that serves her flat.

The three boxes were separately addressed to each of the three family members, who were named on the packaging.

Two of them faced a £400 fine and the other a £100 fine, making the family liable to pay a total of £900.

However, Bristol City Council has since retracted the fines and admitted that the three separate letters were issued due to a "failure in our administration system".

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Pippa said that she would have accepted the fine if she "had dumped a sofa", but in this case she had "no other choice" as the recycling bin was full on each of the occasions she visited over several days.

Although there is a sign by the bins urging members of the public to put waste inside the bin to avoid pests, she said there is nothing highlighting the fact that putting it next to it could result in a fine.

In the three letters, the council stated that the "unlawful deposit of waste" is a "serious criminal matter" which carries "a maximum penalty of £50,000 or up to 12 months imprisonment in the Magistrates' Court or unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment in the Crown Court".

The letter continued by stating that this can be avoided by paying £400 within 14 days and that if there is a reasonable explanation a "representation" can be submitted in writing, according to Bristol Live.

Speaking before the fines were withdrawn, she said: “I went up and down like a yo-yo for a week, trying to recycle these boxes after tripping over them outside the kids’ room.

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"It’s rare to be able to go down to the recycling place and put anything in there. It’s so rarely emptied and it fills up straight away.

"I had tried for five days consecutively to get rid of the cardboard boxes. In the end I got so bored of walking up and down that I put them on top of the bin"

“They’re not big, one of them is the size of a shoe box. The shoe box, unfortunately, was addressed to my son so he got fined as well as us.

“I could understand if I dumped a sofa on a picturesque layby somewhere, I get that."

Pippa went on to say that she would be refusing to pay the hefty fine.

She said: “I’m absolutely not paying it because we were given no choice. Brigstocke Road is the biggest [recycling point in the area] but all of them are overflowing.

“We’ve sent a statement [to the council] and we’ve tried to complain. We are supposed to be recycling but they’ve taken away our doorstep recycling.”

Pippa added that recycling has become a challenge in the area since doorstep recycling was replaced with communal bins.

In a statement to the council, contesting the fine, Ms Gibbons said: "The sign at the recycling area doesn’t give any indication or warning of a fine, there are signs to warn you of a fine if you don’t clear up behind your dog, or if you park inappropriately.

"The sign makes no mention of a substantial fine or gives any notice of this, which is a surprise given the amount.

"If BCC wishes to charge £400 per item not in the bin this should be made much clearer.

"The items in the photographs were all in one bag, it is clear that they belong to the same address and to treat them as individual items is quite disingenuous."

Pippa took photos of the bins on her road and neighbouring streets on several different days to highlight her concerns.

She also claimed in her statement that there is only one food waste bin and two cardboard recycling bins to cater to six streets in the area.

The mum ended her letter by encouraging the council to address the root cause of the problem rather than penalising residents.

Pippa says she was only trying to recycle her cardboard but was unable to place it directly into the bin because it was full up.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “A failure in our administration system led to three different members of the same household being sent three letters for fly tipping in the same location over a 24 hour period.

"These letters are not immediate fines but they ask the alleged offender to contact the council to explain why their waste was on the highway.

"They can then opt to pay the specified amount via a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or can attend an interview conducted in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).

"We have informed the household that we have withdrawn the FPNs and instead issued a warning about fly tipping to one individual.

"We apologise for any distress and inconvenience caused. Environmental crime has a negative impact on our streets and costs the tax payers and the council thousands of pounds.

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"The council is working to reduce the amount of fly tipping in the city, which includes placing waste by the side of bins.

"When we have evidence that identifies the person who has allegedly committed fly tipping, we send letters containing instructions to contact the council to explain why waste wasn’t disposed of correctly.

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