A shop owner has spoken of her anger after she was given a £300 fine for having a Walnut Whip wrapper in her shop – because the council ‘classed it as trade waste’.
Cathy Roberts, 54, who owns Literally bookshop in New Brighton, Merseyside said she was ‘shocked and outraged’ after receiving the penalty from the Wirral Council litter enforcement team.
She claims she was handed the fine when a member of the team visited her shop and discovered the wrapper, sandwich packaging and a newspaper on her counter.
Despite her telling the officer she would dispose of the items, she was hit with a fine because she did not have a licence for trade waste at her business.
Cathy Roberts, 54, who owns Literally bookshop in New Brighton, Merseyside said she was ‘shocked and outraged’ after receiving the huge penalty from the Wirral Council litter enforcement team
Cathy claims that a member of staff from Kingdom Waste management services entered her shop on January 8 and told her that three items, a walnut whip wrapper, a sandwich wrapper and a newspaper were all classed as trade waste.
She said she was also told that she needed a waste agreement licence for her business.
Cathy and her partner, Pete, were given a £300 fine and asked to produce a waste agreement plan within 14 days.
She said that the council rescinded the fine after she made persistent calls to it.
Cathy said: ‘A man entered our shop, dressed all in black with a clipboard in his hand, and began having a conversation with Pete, claiming he was from the council.
‘We were telling him about our storytelling bookshop, mainly selling kids books and inviting in the local community, when Pete noticed his Kingdom badge.
‘He handed us a yellow enforcement letter and asked us to produce proof of our waste agreement all the way back to the previous 12 months.
‘We asked who he was and that he should leave our shop but he asked what Pete was going to do with his newspapers and what I would be doing with the sweet wrapper and that by putting it in the bin it would become trade waste.
‘We were so furious so we asked him to get out as we had customers in the shop at the time.’
Cathy claims she is not the only one to be targeted on the street with another 12 businesses thought to have received the same fine as part of new waste rules
Cathy claims she is not the only one to be targeted on the street with another 12 businesses thought to have received the same fine as part of new waste rules.
Cathy claims after being slapped with the fine she later received a letter reinforcing it, addressed from ‘Barnet Council’, a London Borough over 200 miles away from her shop.
Despite the further letter, Cathy was then told by Wirral council she will not receive a fine, and to ‘ignore’ all further letters regarding penalties.
She claims that she was handed the fine when the team visited the shop despite telling them she would dispose of the wrapper at home. She is pictured holding a letter she received from Wirral Council’s litter enforcement team
Cathy said: ‘They had clearly copied and pasted the letter and just shows how much they have taken care with this issue.
‘There has been a huge push to get people back to their local high streets and it is already tough for small businesses without this added fine.
‘It all seems like a money-making scheme.
‘I’m not sure the council really knew what was going on.
‘When you put a business together no matter how big it is, you are investing money, time and effort and you hope for the council to help and support you.
‘Even local councillors were unaware of this policy coming into place.’
A spokesperson for Wirral Council said: ‘We suspended enforcement of trade waste legislation whilst we carried out a review of our approach to this issue and we apologise to the confusion that has been caused.
‘Based on the significant number of businesses who have advised they were not aware of their legal obligations in this area, the council has on this occasion made the decision to rescind all notices issued. Businesses which have already paid a fixed penalty notice will be refunded.
‘The emphasis going forward will be that the Council expects all businesses to have plans in place to be compliant with the legal duty of care obligations as set out in the Environmental Protection Act 1990.’
What is trade waste and how can businesses be fined by the council?
- Trade waste is defined as any rubbish produced from commercial activity
- It can mean waste produced from working at private residential properties including those who run their business from home
• It can also be waste produced by labourers working at business premises
- There are five main types of trade waste – demolition and construction, electronic and electrical equipment, healthcare, packaging; plus recyclables and vehicle waste
- Trade waste can be hazardous or non-hazardous
- Businesses have a Duty of Care to ensure that any waste they produce is sorted, stored, transported and disposed of correctly
- Failure to comply with regulations can result in a fine or time behind bars
Information sourced from ecoexperts.co.uk