Dereham deputy mayor’s recycling shock

Tim Birt with the 25 litre plastic container which he was refused permission to leave at the recycling centre at Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher. Tim Birt with the 25 litre plastic container which he was refused permission to leave at the recycling centre at Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Friday, January 17, 2014
6:08 AM

The deputy mayor of Dereham has spoken of his dismay after he was refused permission to leave a plastic container at the town’s recycling centre – and was then threatened with prosecution.

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Tim Birt thought he was doing a good deed when he picked up the empty 25-litre container which had blown down the street and landed in front of his Ovington home.

The town councillor thought it was “perfect” for rigid plastic recycling so, together with other recycling he had loaded into his Land Rover, took it to the Rash’s Green facility on Sunday.

When he got there, however, he was told he was not allowed to recycle the item as it was not from his own home - and was then told, if he left it, he could be prosecuted for fly-tipping.

Mr Birt said: “I thought he was pulling my leg to start with but he was adamant. What an absurd situation whereby a citizen can’t pick up litter – which could have been a hazard to road users – and then take it to a council recycling centre.”

When the Breckland Green Party member was refused permission on Sunday morning to recycle the item, which remained in his vehicle the whole time, he asked for a refusal report form and he has since made a formal complaint to Norfolk County Council.

He said he was “open and honest” and had told the recycling centre worker how he had found the container just outside his home and that the worker did not suggest what he should do with the item, only that he could be fined up to £50,000 or spend up to 12 months in prison for fly-tipping if he left it.

Mr Birt, who still has the container until he can legally dispose of it, added: “It’s good recyclable plastic, that’s why I wanted to put it in the rigid plastics box. I was trying to do the right thing.”

Paul Borrett, strategic waste manager for Norfolk County Council, said: “It’s clear that he (Mr Birt) did what any community-minded resident would do and sought to tackle the waste that he found on the street near his home. In this type of situation though we would always urge someone to contact their district council who will be able to arrange for the waste to be collected or advise on the best way of dealing with it.

“It is the responsibility of the district councils to deal with litter and fly-tipping on public land and they have the correct equipment and facilities to safely do this, and will also investigate any instances of fly-tipping and where possible prosecute offenders.

“I understand the bemusement that may be felt by not being able to leave the container at the site. We have very clear guidelines that the contractors who run the site follow and in this case they correctly identified the item as non-domestic waste, which is something that we are unable to accept at our household waste recycling centres. It simply would not be fair for the household waste recycling centres, paid for by taxpayers, to have to deal with commercial, fly-tipped and litter-picked waste which could see costs shooting up for all residents.”

For information on which materials can be accepted at recycling centres, see www.norfolk.gov.uk/recyclingcentres.

15 comments

  • Before everyone starts to go bananas and demonise this individual, I would just like to add a bit of balance to this debate. I regularly use the Rash's Green site and always find the staff there to be exceptionally polite, courteous and helpful. They are not highly paid, the site is open and manned almost every day of the year, in all weathers and let's not forget that some of the public tipping there can be less than pleasant to deal with at times. I for one think they do a damn good job. Prior to this site opening I used to use the Ashill site and during one visit I was talking to an operative who explained the skips there are under constant CCTV surveillance and if any of the staff are observed to be complicit in any breaches of safety or waste disposal rules, they simply get fired. So lets just get things in perspective - this man was simply doing the job he is paid to do and applying the mandatory rules of the site as laid down in the contract. This is not a jobsworth issue but it has served to highlight a gap in the waste disposal regulations that needs to be addressed. To be honest I think its a bit of an over-reaction that wouldn't make the news if it happened to you or I, as opposed to a deputy Mayor. Or maybe its just a slow news week?

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    Lucioperca

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • Claire Voyant ? I wonder if , by any chance , this man is related to those other hilariously named trolls Jenny Talia , Emma Rhoyds , Seaman Staines , Frank N Sense etc etc etc. What larks !

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • Ok lets just keep some perspective here. Before everyone goes bananas and starts to demonise these workers, I would like to add some balance. I use the Rash's Green site on a regular basis and have always found the staff to be exceptionally polite and helpful. These guys clearly have some strict contractual rules they must adhere to. Prior to this site opening I used to travel to the Ashill site and on one visit I was talking to one of the operatives where it was explained their site was under CCTV surveillance and if staff are seen to be complicit in breaches of waste disposal rules, they simply get fired. These guys are not paid an awful lot, the sites are virtually open 247 in all weathers and to be honest some of the poeple tipping there are less than courteous or respectful to them. He wasn't being a jobsworth, he was adhereing to laid down policy and was at risk of losing his job if he was caught bending those rules. This incident has simply highlighted an gap in the waste regulations that needs addressing, its not the fault of the men at the site. Does this really warrant such a big article in the EDP or was it a slow news week?

    Report this comment

    Lucioperca

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • Absolute "garbage". I can only assume that the operative at the Recycling Center was abiding by the rules laid down by Norfolk County Council. So who in there right mind makes such narrow minded rules? Mr Birt was doing a good deed as a right minded resident of his village. Does this mean that persons can no longer legally do a litter pick and dispose of the waste they collect at their local Recycle Center. Breckland D.C. have volunteer Rangers who are given the equipment to do litter picks, so just how are we supposed to legally dispose of that litter?

    Report this comment

    Sandra Osborn

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • Bring back the good old days when the tip was the tip and you could just dump what you wanted when you wanted.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • Does seem rather petty, but I can't understand why Mr Birt felt compelled to give the staff the life story of a piece of rubbish! Why didn't he just put it in the recycling bin and get in his car and drive home?

    Report this comment

    Citizen of EUSSR

    Sunday, January 19, 2014

  • What mindless numpty sitting in a nice warm office makes rules like this. No wonder we've lost it!

    Report this comment

    beverley

    Sunday, January 19, 2014

  • I got harassed by recycling centre staff for bringing too much brick rubble. I was annoyed because it's an entirely recyclable product and the amount I had was not enough to warrant the expense of even a tiny skip. To be fair the operative did let me, with a wink, dump it but I was warned not to bring more. I'm sure I would have not had any problems leaving it if it was the same weight of lead or copper. I also got bothered when I took some old tins of paint and water based varnish for disposal. Ancient nasty looking tins of oil based enamel paints were no problem but all varnish is apparently classed as hazardous waste and I had to take it back home. Quite why there is a difference was not explained.

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    Cyril the Canary

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • Norfolks recycling strategy was created by the Tories under Mr. Murphy and Cllr. Borett and this situation should not occur as the plastic container is a resource, not waste. The restiction put on taxpayers who freely pay to drive the waste to the few centres maintained are draconian, they create extra traffic as irate staff reject more than one item of plasterboard or a door, no more, making it necessarry for us to come all that way again.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • Pathetic We often get told off for apparently taking too much to the local centre Just ignore them, they are there to provide a service Jobsworths!!

    Report this comment

    Jacob Burns

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • If the operator at the tip had used a modicum of common-sense, this situation would not have arisen. With some 2½ million people unemployed, surely it is possible to find someone else to do the job at the tip who can use the common-sense with which most people are endowed.

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    A passing observer

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • If the operator at the tip had used a modicum of common-sense, this situation would not have arisen. With some 2½ million people unemployed, surely it is possible to find someone else to do the job at the tip who can use the common-sense with which most people are endowed.

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    A passing observer

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • So, if he'd kept his mouth shut about the circumstances that he found the drum in, he'd have been able to leave it there without any problems. It's only because he was open and honest that the jobsworth refused it. I guess that shows that it doesn't pay to be honest - you get treated like a potential criminal!

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • I was advised some while ago that I couldn't take items to the tip for a neighbour who was incapacitated or elderly & infirm neighbours as I would have to be registered as a waste carrier and need a licence. It would be OK if the neighbour went with me to the tip to dispose of hisher waste. Otherwise I could be prosecuted. What a load of cobblers. The limit on DIY waste is also an environmental scandal. I can take 1 large item or an 80 litre bag EVERY week which equates to 52 items or 52 80 litre bags per year. However, this would require me to drive to the tip multiple times, a round trip of 16½ miles or 858 miles per year. In these days of trying to go green this is a nonsense as I could reduce this by at least 75% if I were allowed to take 4 items once a month.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk Lad

    Friday, January 17, 2014

  • What a fiasco created by petty jobsworths Isn't it about time that a council employs a strategic, portfolio,cabinet,executive officer for Common Sense with specialist responsibility for Lunacy and Crassness ? No doubt if appointed at the going rate for Council Executive Grade one pay structure at a salary of £90k per annum, Working hours 10am to 3pm four day week, 40 days annual leave plus council car and mileages the cartel would be complete Years ago these numpties were known as Civil Servants Appears neither of these words apply in 2014 . Alice in Wonerland rules

    Report this comment

    Claire Voyant

    Friday, January 17, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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