Mother fined £300 for putting bins out early

Telegraph | May 22, 2008
By Urmee Khan

A woman has been fined nearly £300 for leaving her bins out a day before they were due to be collected.

Zoe Watmough, 22, left the bins, a grey one and a green one for recycling, outside her home on a Wednesday ready for collection the next day.

Council officers issued her with a £75 fine claiming that the bins had been put out 24 hours before they were due to be emptied.

But the mother-of-three refused to pay and ended up facing magistrates in Bolton, where she was fined £125 and ordered to pay £125 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Speaking on Wednesday, Miss Watmough said: "I am flabbergasted at the outcome. All I did was put my rubbish out the night before it was due to be collected.

"Surely households up and down the country do that every week. The next thing I knew, I got a letter from the council which said I was getting a fine. There was no way I could afford to pay it."

She added: "Everybody in this area puts their bins out the day before collection. I don't see what the problem is. I have not hurt anyone, caused any obstruction or even littered the area. The fact is, I can't afford to pay the fine."

The court heard that Miss Watmough had already been sent a warning under environmental health rules by council officers who spotted her bins on the street on a Tuesday last November. Officers claimed that the bins had been put out 48 hours before collection.

Bolton council said it was pursuing prosecutions over bins left on streets because of the number of arson attacks by youths.

A spokesman said: "Officers visited on Jan 23 to find bins belonging to Miss Watmough on the public highway. On this occasion no other bins from neighbouring properties were in the street.

"Miss Watmough was issued a fixed penalty notice for failing to return her waste bins to her property. This penalty was not paid in the specified time period of 14 days and legal proceedings were initiated."

Disputes between residents and councils over bin collection are increasingly common.

Last week Barry Freezer, a 73-year-old retired milkman, mistakenly put cabbage stalks in with his garden waste and was reprimanded by Norwich city council. Binmen claimed that the trimmings were kitchen rubbish.

The same council had refused to empty the bin of partially-sighted Lenny Woodward, 95, because he put a ketchup bottle and an empty coffee jar in the wrong bin.