COUNCILS CRACK DOWN ON FLY-TIPPERS

Plus: Fines for Friday night fly-tippers – and a council refuse collector…Passport websites scam warning…New technology for visually-impaired people…HS2 environmental sums ‘don’t add up’…Big Lunch 2014

An Orpington resident has paid the price for ignoring warning signs about the penalties for dumping waste inappropriately at Cotmandene Crescent car park.

The woman  pleaded guilty at Bromley magistrates court to one charge of unlawfully depositing controlled waste under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. She was fined £100 plus £20 victim surcharge and  ordered to pay £458 costs to Bromley council.

“Caught on CCTV depositing a large amount of wood from her car onto the ground near to bins, the woman  did not heed any of the warnings clearly displayed on adjacent signs” said a Bromley council spokeswoman.

“One sign gave clear details of the green garden waste collection site which operates at weekends only, advising that waste must be compostable garden waste left only during site opening times when the lorry is present.

“A second sign said: ‘NO Dumping or tipping waste, including green waste – fine £50,000 or 5 years imprisonment’, while a further notice warned: ‘you dump, we fine’ and again gave the penalty for not complying.

“The council’s environmental services department took action through the courts as the waste was not only dumped on the ground outside the designated opening time, but was also not compostable green waste.”

Cllr Colin Smith and Cllr Tim Stevens, executive members for environment and public protection respectively have worked together to launch a ‘cross-portfolio’ crackdown on antisocial behaviour and ‘enviro-crime’ in the borough using  a variety of initiatives including the expansion of CCTV in some areas and community clean-ups.

Cllr  Stevens said: “Local residents made it quite clear to the council that they want us to crack down on those who selfishly dump rubbish inappropriately, so this is exactly what we are doing.

“Since the installation of CCTV in this area, many warnings and fines have been given out.”

Cllr Smith said: We want to make sure that neighbourhoods are not spoilt by those who choose to ignore the rules.

“Law abiding citizens should not have to put up with mess made by those who refuse to do the right thing, or be expected to pay through their council tax for clearing it up.” (Source: Bromley council press release)

…..AND FINES FOR FRIDAY-NIGHT FLY-TIPPERS…..

London Road in Norbury is the latest part of Croydon to benefit from an intensive council clamp-down on fly-tipping.

Dozens of uniformed council staff took to the streets on a Friday night to investigate rubbish that had been illegally dumped in the area. The operation resulted in 26 fixed penalty notices of £75 being issued.

“Covert surveillance cameras were put in place to monitor known hot-spots and letters were dropped through doors in areas where problems are regularly reported” said a Croydon council spokesman.

“The letters outlined residents’ responsibilities and the services available from the council to help deal with managing waste.

“Shops and businesses were also visited to check they had the necessary waste removal contracts in place, along with receipts for any collections.

“Of 46 inspections, 29 were unable to provide all of the necessary documentation and will be receiving follow-up checks which could result in fines of £300.

“Clearing reported fly-tips costs local taxpayers many hundreds of thousands of pounds annually.

“The night-time operation is part of a £100,000 investment by Croydon Council designed to reduce this cost and tidy up many of the borough’s most regularly fly-tipped neighbourhoods.

“It links with the council’s ‘Keep it Clean’ campaign, which is designed to generate a greater sense of responsibility and get people to look after their neighbourhoods.

“Long-term solutions are being trialled, including working with property owners and tenants to find better ways of storing waste and creating better security arrangements to stop illicit dumping.”

Cllr Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said: “We’ve really stepped up our operation over recent months.

“By now, you’d hope people would have got the message that the council means business when it comes to punishing fly-tippers and businesses which try to dodge paying for proper waste clearance.

“But we know the problem still has a big impact on many residents and we will continue to enforce the law whenever we catch people dumping rubbish and ruining the local environment.” (Source: Croydon council press release)

…..AND FOR A REFUSE COLLECTOR 

A former Croydon refuse collector who illegally accepted trade waste from builders has been ordered to pay £775 including costs after pleading guilty at Croydon magistrates court.

The hearing followed a council investigation which had already cost the man his job with council contractors Veiola.

Council staff investigating regular fly-tipping on a secluded spot on Oaks Road, Shirley, had last year set up covert cameras to monitor the area.

But what they caught on film was the Veolia employee meeting with two builders and helping them dodge the cost of legitimately disposing of their waste by loading it illegally into his truck.

A Croydon council spokesman said: “Every business is legally obliged to pay for the waste it creates, and by avoiding charges in this way companies put a huge and unnecessary burden onto the taxpayer.

“Fly-tippers cost Croydon hundreds of thousands of pounds every year, which is why the council is currently investing an extra £300,000 on ways to reduce the problem.

“When it was discovered that a contractor’s employee was helping people avoid payment by accepting their waste directly, both the council and Veolia took immediate action.

“With the evidence from the cameras providing clear proof of guilt, the man was dismissed for gross misconduct and his subsequent court appearance means he now has a criminal record along with a large fine to pay.”

Cllr Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said: “The strong message we want to send out from this case is how important it is for people to be responsible about the way they dispose of their waste.

“Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for people who are trying to dodge costs.

“If any member of the public witnesses suspicious behaviour of this nature they should tell the council about it so we can investigate and take action.” (Source: Croydon council press elease)

BEWARE OF PASSPORT TO INFLATED PRICES

Holidaymakers and international travellers using passport-checking websites to get a fast-track service could be paying a lot more than they need to – and finding there’s no advantage gained.

That’s the warning from Croydon’s trading standards team which has received a number of complaints from local consumers who had gone online and found services promising a guaranteed quick and efficient turn-around for passport applications and renewals.

In three instances, the consumers had paid out approximately £50 each for the companies to check their passport application before it was sent to HM Passport Office. Believing they were paying for their passport to be renewed directly, none of the consumers wanted this service.

Only after payment had been taken did they realise that they had still to pay £72.50 to HMPO for their passport to be renewed, leaving them with a total bill of more than £120.

“With some providers, the charge can be even higher” warn Croydon trading standards..

“The Post Office offers an official check-and-send service that costs £81.25, a price that includes the £72.50 cost of the new passport.

“Alternatively, an online form can be completed at the HMPO site (www.gov.uk/renew-adult-passport) as long as the applicant is not intending to travel for at least four weeks.

“Providing a passport-checking service is not illegal, but the nature of the service being provided should be made absolutely clear to consumers, along with the fact that £72.50 will need to be paid to HMPO to get the passport.

Cllr Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety, said: “These websites usually come up top in searches for ‘passport renewal’ because they have paid for those prime, eye-catching positions.

“Residents should exercise extreme caution when applying to renew their passport online. “They should treat websites with caution, and ensure they know exactly what it is they’re paying for.”

Anybody who thinks they have been misled by a passport-checking website should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0845 404 0506 (www.citizensadvice.org.uk).
(Source: Croydon council press release)

CULTURE MINISTER PRAISES LAMBETH LIBRARIES NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR VISUALLY-IMPAIRED PEOPLE

A Government minister has been ‘inspired’ by Lambeth’s innovative technology which helps visually impaired people read and use computers.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP joined Cllr Sally Prentice, Lambeth’s cabinet member for culture and leisure, at South Lambeth library –  the first library in the country to introduce the technology.

The range of services on offer to the borough’s partially sighted and blind citizens includes software that reads webpages aloud, equipment that photographs and reads hard copy texts and a magnifying mouse that makes it easier to read newspapers and books on a screen.

The equipment was introduced to South Lambeth Library by Christina Burnett, the director of Vauxhall CIC social enterprise, through her Digital Tuesdays programme.

Cllr Prentice said: “Lambeth is leading the way in getting this kind of technology into public libraries where everyone can use it.

“Christina has done an amazing job in introducing this technology which has incredible impact on the quality of life for blind and partially sighted people”

“It increases the information available to visually impaired people and gives them more independence.”

Mr Vaizey said: “It was inspiring to see and I’ll certainly be an advocate for this technology to be more widely available.”

While some of the software is free, much of the equipment would be too expensive to provide on an individual basis so providing it in public libraries allows more people to benefit from it, said a Lambeth council spokeswoman.

HS2 ENVIRONMENTAL SUMS “DON’T ADD UP” 

The hidden costs of HS2 have been underestimated, due to the damage it would cause in London and the need to adequately compensate affected residents, say the London Assembly environment committee.

The health impacts of pollution and loss of green space need to be taken into account, for the cost-benefit analysis to be accurate, they argue.

Murad Qureshi who chairs the environment committee says; “We’ve heard plenty about the supposed benefits of HS2 – but what about the human and environmental costs?

“What of the destruction of homes, city parks, ancient woodland and wildlife habitat?

“What about the 10 years of noise, pollution and disruption imposed on local people?

“Central London already has some of the worst air pollution in Europe – have the extra deaths and health effects of this added pollution not been considered at all?”

“These costs need to be re-evaluated for the sums to add up to a realistic price tag for the construction of HS2.

“The government can’t keep ignoring Londoners’ concerns. “People have clearly told MP’s that they are unhappy with the rough-shod way this bill is being pushed through.”

“HS2 should get out the calculator and redo their sums. “Parliament needs to consider the overall cost to the health and wellbeing of Londoners when examining the environmental impact of HS2”.

See more at: http://www.london.gov.uk/media/assembly-press-releases/2014/02/hs2-the-environmental-sums-don-t-add-up#sthash.3xm0Qte8.dpuf (Source: London Assembly press release)

GET READY FOR BIG LUNCH 2014

Neighbours looking to hold a street party in the borough of Croydon to celebrate this year’s Big Lunch are asked to get in touch with the council for help arranging their event.

Taking place on Sunday June 1st, the Big Lunch is a national event aimed at bringing communities together over a shared meal.

The council will organise any necessary road closures and provide signage free of charge – saving you more than £1,000.

So if you’re planning to close your road, or hold a party in one of the borough’s parks or open spaces, the council needs to hear from you.

All it takes is 10 minutes completing a form or simply call the council’s team of customer service advisers on 020 8726 6000, and they will do the rest for you.

You will just need to say where the event is to be held, what sort of facilities will be offered, and when you want to hold it.

Cllr Vidhi Mohan, cabinet member for communities and economic development, said: “Although a relatively new annual event, the Big Lunch has quickly become a popular occasion in Croydon, with neighbours in our diverse communities coming together to have fun.

“We’ve seen this in recent years with the Olympics, Diamond Jubilee and the Royal wedding.

“So we’re asking people to get in touch with the council to ensure their event runs smoothly and everyone has a great time.”

For the latest application deadlines, answers to frequently asked questions, and a list of available green spaces, visitwww.croydon.gov.uk/biglunch

And even if your event doesn’t involve a party in a street, park or open space, the council is keen that you register your event by emailing parties@croydon.gov.uk

“This will enable us to archive what happened in Croydon for Big Lunch 2014” they say. . (Source: Croydon council press release)

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