I was threatened with a £150 fine by jobsworth council worker after leaving a cardboard box NEXT to my recycling bin | The Sun

A WOMAN has told of her fury after being threatened with a £150 fine after leaving a cardboard box next to her recycling bin.

Leah Spicer, 30, said she was made to feel like a criminal after an 'overzealous' council officer knocked on her door and told her she was breaking the law.

The 30-year-old had left the folded up box behind her wheelie bin outside her house in Christchurch, Dorset, for refuse collectors to take away.

Although they emptied the bin, they refused to take the 3ft by 6ft piece of cardboard as it wasn't inside.

A enforcement officer later took a photograph of the offending item and then confronted the single mother with the evidence the next day.

Leah said the official from Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council told her that fly-tipping carried a maximum fine of £50,000 before threatening her with a criminal record and a £150 fine.

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She began to record the doorstep exchange and pleaded with him not to issue the penalty.

A tearful Ms Spicer told him she recently left her job as a cleaner at a holiday home and said she has been unable to start another job because she is awaiting an operation next month.

She said she had 'no idea' how she would pay the fine and that the officer reduced her to tears.

In the video, the officer can be heard saying: "I have to look after 24 hours after I have taken pictures to see if the waste is still out here.

"It is a criminal offence ma'am.

"You're going to receive a fixed penalty notice for littering. I'm just going to do it for a litter offence rather than for fly tipping.

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"If found guilty for fly tipping it can be up to £50,000 and a criminal record. You can get taken to court for these types of things but I'm giving you a fixed penalty."

The jobsworth officer eventually relented and decided not to fine Ms Spicer after her neighbour interjected.

Leah criticised the council official for his 'heavy-handed' approach.

She said: "The day before he took photos and then he came back the next day to say he was going to give me a fine and a criminal record.

"I said I would move it and he said it had been 24 hours which is why he was coming to give me a fine.

"He read me my rights and said he was recording me and that it could be used as evidence in court.

"I started thinking 'what have I done?' I felt like I was a criminal. I couldn't believe it. I thought I was going to be arrested.

"I was just in shock. When he showed me the cardboard box he was talking about, I thought 'is this a prank?'

"At first he said he was going to give me a criminal record for fly-tipping.

I felt like he was gunning for me – he was going to fine me no matter what.

"I just thought, 'oh my god, how am I going to pay that?' I have an eight-year-old daughter. I have no income coming in and I am living off £40 a week.

"At the end he said there's no fine, so all of that to turn around and say you don't have to pay. My neighbour spoke to him and maybe he realised he'd gone about it all the wrong way.

"I don't know his reason for even doing it in the first place. I had to walk away from the situation. I was crying and having a panic attack.

"That this guy came onto my property and made me feel that way because of a cardboard box is disgusting.

"He was completely over the top. There is a right way to go about it and talk to people nicely, like a human.

"The council should be working with us. If the box needed to be moved he should have told me and I would have moved it."

When reached for comment, a BCP Council spokesperson said: "Our Waste Investigations Support & Enforcement contractors, (WISE) enforce legislation in accordance with the law and in line with our policy.

"They receive training and ongoing professional development to maintain the high standards we require. They are sensitive to each resident’s situation, whilst still required to investigate and enforce.

"Our contractors spoke to the resident who had left items of waste on the pavement for a number of days.

"Items for collection will not be collected unless placed in a bin and householders can be found responsible for waste such as this, even when it is outside their house on the pavement.

"Residents should visit one of our recycling centres to dispose of additional waste, or store it suitably and safely on their property until the next scheduled collection.

"BCP Council will soon launch an awareness campaign called ‘Your Waste, Your Duty’ to highlight the work we carry out around these issues."

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