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Dereham deputy mayor’s recycling shock

06:08 17 January 2014

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.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

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.

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.

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