Fury at councils' spy camera crackdown of recycling bin 'fly-tippers'

Fury over crackdown on the recycling bank ‘fly-tippers’: How councils are setting up cameras and issuing fines to stop people leaving items NEXT to recycling bins despite claims from locals that they are always full and are never emptied

  • Councils across the UK are using spy cameras to catch people dumping rubbish 

Councils clamping down on recycling bank ‘fly-tippers’ have ignited outrage after installing spy cameras to catch people leaving bags of items next to the bins – despite residents claims that they are always full.

Local authorities have set up surveillance cameras – some with hi-tech number plate-recognition software – and issued fines to people caught leaving items of donated clothing and recycling by the bins. 

Cash-strapped civic chiefs insist their efforts are about clearing up the streets and tackling the ‘horrifying’ hotspots where rubbish ‘blights’ their community, costing councils nationally an estimated £60million a year. 

But furious taxpayers have lashed out at the move, branding it ‘cynical’ and ‘scandalous’, amid claims some recycling bins are ‘always full and never emptied’. 

In Boston, Lincolnshire one woman who was fined £400 after she left a bag of clothes outside a supermarket clothing bank has even vowed to fight her local council who she claims are ‘punishing her for a good deed.’ 

Councils have issued stern warnings over social media urging people not to leave bags of donated goods next to recycling bins 

Councils have posted warnings on Twitter warning people against leaving items outside recycling banks

Cash-strapped civic chiefs insist their efforts are about clearing up the streets and tackling the ‘horrifying’ hotspots where rubbish ‘blights’ their community

Councils in Bedford, London, Broughton in Wales, and Derbyshire have all set up cameras to watch over recycling bins and centres. 

Other authorities, like Brighton, Portsmouth, and Westminster have used mobile cameras to monitor fly-tipping ‘hotspots’. 

While Birmingham City Council – which this month declared it was essentially ‘bankrupt’ – splashed out on new AI-cameras to clampdown on its fly-tipping woes. 

On social media, councils have taken a hardline approach to tackling fly-tippers, issuing stern warnings to locals about the potential fines people can face. 

Amy-Louise May was hit with the penalty after a trip to her local Asda on August 31.

The 29-year-old claimed the store’s two banks were full – so she left clothing and bedding beside them instead before driving away.

However, her good deed turned sour when she received a letter from Boston Borough Council ordering her to pay £400 for fly-tipping.

The authority said the banks had been emptied two days earlier, disputing Amy-Louise’s claim.

Yesterday, the clothing banks were quiet, with few people seen donating items and no bags left outside them.

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Amy-Louise May’s car with the bag she left by a clothes recycling bin. She has been fined £400 for fly-tipping after she left it next to what she claims were full bins

Yesterday, the clothing banks were quiet, with few people seen donating items and no bags left outside them

Ms May claims she has received a letter through the post ordering her to pay the fine, which she says she cannot afford

Furious Amy-Louise May has now vowed to fight her local council, urging them: ‘Take me to court!’

She said she only left her unwanted items for charity beside two large clothes and shoe banks at her local Asda store because they were both full.

Ms May 29, from Boston, Lincolnshire, speaking exclusively to MailOnline: ‘I’m not a fly tipper and shouldn’t be treated like a criminal. It is disgusting.’

‘I was leaving some clothes and bedding that I no longer wanted but could help other needy people. I put down one or two bags near the bins because there was no room inside.

’The next think I know I’ve got a letter through the post ordering me to pay £400. It’s turning into a nightmare.

‘I shouldn’t be fined for doing a good deed. I have not paid the fine. I cannot afford to pay that and as point of principal I don’t think I should. I intend to fight this all the way.’

Defiant Ms May has enlisted the help of her local Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness, Mike Warman, who emailed her saying he was ‘investigating her issue on her behalf.’

She is also demanding the council provide CCTV showing her looking into the bins, she states had no room, and of workers previously emptying them.

She said: ‘I want to see the CCTV, the evidence, and I’ve told them they can take me to court.

’They have called me a fly tipper and I am not. How can you penalise someone for trying to do good? It’s not like I’ve just got a load of rubbish and chucked it there.

‘I could clearly see the bins were full. I am not an idiot!’

‘Life is tough enough and this is making matters worse.’

Lorry driver Steve Hamilton, 48, said Ms May was fined an ‘extortionate amount’ after donating clothes with good intention

Admin worker Sue Scarboro, 60, agreed – saying the way Amy-Louise was treated was ‘absolutely shocking’

Boston Borough Council claimed the recycling bins in Asda were always a trouble spot for fly-tipping (pictured is some of the rubbish left there)

And fellow supermarket users said they felt the fine was unnecessary, and believed Amy-Louise had been treated ‘harshly’.

Lorry driver Steve Hamilton, 48, said she was fined an ‘extortionate amount’, adding: ‘She has come with good intentions of donating some clothes. If it is full, what is she supposed to do?

‘You can’t go around town looking for somewhere else with petrol costs as they are these days.

‘Even if the bins were full I wouldn’t consider it fly-tipping. It just doesn’t sit right with me. She was trying to do something nice.’

Admin worker Sue Scarboro, 60, said: ‘I think the way this woman has been treated is absolutely shocking.

‘And it’s not the first time this has happened, either. The same thing took place at Tesco quite recently, and someone got fined there too.

‘If they are putting the bins there they should be emptied regularly. It is not her fault. In fact, it’s very unfair.’

Fly-tipping is a criminal offence that could lead to a fine of up to £1,000 after the Government announced a crackdown on the illegal dumping of waste this year.

Amy-Louise said she was ‘disgusted’ when she received a letter informing her about her fine.

READ MORE: How bad is fly-tipping near YOU? Interactive map reveals England’s worst areas for illegal dumping… and the eye-watering cost of clearing it up

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The support worker said: ‘How can you penalise someone for trying to do good? It’s not like I’ve just got a load of rubbish and chucked it there.’

She added she had a ‘breakdown’ when she was hit by the penalty. Amy-Louise said: ‘It’s either I pay that or I pay my rent. No matter what, I’m in a bad situation. You can see what was in the bag and can see it was for charity.’

Speaking to MailOnline about the Amy-Louise’s punishment, classroom assistant Karen Walker, 48, said: ‘I think it is very harsh, personally.

‘Fly-tipping is people deliberately dumping rubbish to avoid having to pay to get rid of it. It’s disgusting.

‘But this is something completely different. She could have just chucked the clothing and bedding away, but instead she has tried to donate it to people who are less fortunate than her. She is being a good citizen and she’s been punished for it.’

Factory worker Alex Miller, 24, added: ‘I think it’s a bit unnecessary. It sounds like the council wants to make a bit of money to be honest.

‘I don’t think any normal person would consider this fly-tipping. It’s ridiculous.’

And catering assistant Caroline Bedford, 59, said: ‘I think £400 is an awful lot of money for this. I have a lot of sympathy for her.

‘She was only trying to do what we are constantly told – and that is to recycle stuff you no longer need rather than throw it away. 

But locals have complained the bins are not emptied quickly enough, leaving those wanting to recycle with no other option than to leave the waste on the ground 

Not everyone has been impressed by the warnings, with some expressing their displeasure online 

Catering assistant Caroline Bedford, 59, said that she thought the £400 fine was ‘an awful lot’ – and the council are ‘too keen’ to make money from people

Signalman Richard Stevenson, 55, said Amy-Louise should not have left the outside if the bins were full – but a £400 fine was ‘totally disproportionate’

‘There is a lot worse fly-tipping in Boston, that’s for sure. And these bins are often full, so I can believe her.

‘It seems to me that the council is way too keen to make money out of people that are trying to do good.’

Signalman Richard Stevenson, 55, added: ‘If what the council says is correct and the bins weren’t full, then she shouldn’t have left the bag outside really. 

‘And if they were full maybe she should have come back next time.

‘But a man was fined recently £100 for dropping a cigarette butt in Boston – so for her to be fined £400 is totally disproportionate.’

Her punishment came just weeks after another woman was slapped with a fine for leaving two sacks next to a full recycling bank in Boston. 

Annette Susan Wright dumped the bags in error at the town’s local Tesco on May 22, last year. 

The 55-year-old, from Wyberton, pleaded guilty to depositing the items there after being caught on CCTV in a move that cost her £570 in fines and penalties. 

Meanwhile in North East Lincolnshire the situation was so bad that the area’s council green-lit installing mobile surveillance cameras to covertly monitor 40 recycling sites in the borough.

The cameras were designed to move to different hotspots to try catch people out littering at the banks. 

It followed claims some residents were abusing the bins, dumping fridges, mattresses, doors and building waste there. 

The move was announced back in 2018, with Councillor David Bolton insisting the measure was necessary.

‘It is totally unacceptable to leave waste piled up outside the recycling banks,’ he said at the time. 

‘Not only does it look unsightly, some of the waste can attract rats and it makes it difficult for our staff to empty the bins.

‘Crews have to be diverted from whatever else they are doing to come and clear the rubbish, which is a waste of their time.’

North East Lincolnshire Council has since removed its recycling banks. But the authority said it spent ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ on removing fly-tipped trash, and that it has a street cleaning budget of about £1.5million a year. 

‘Most people want their town to look tidy. Leaving rubbish next to litter bins and recycling banks is fly-tipping and it’s illegal,’ a council spokesman told MailOnline.

‘We removed our bring-to recycling banks last year. At times, the fly-tipping was so bad that our staff couldn’t even get to the bins to empty them.

Local authorities have spent more than £10m in the past year cleaning up illegally dumped waste

‘Our recycling banks were for recycling things like paper and card, but we would often find mattresses, fridges, food waste and all sorts of other rubbish dumped illegally at these sites.

‘That’s why we started using CCTV as a way of monitoring the sites and gathering evidence against fly-tippers.

‘When people fly-tipped waste at these sites, we had to divert staff from other duties to clear up the mess. This was a complete waste of their time.

READ MORE: Mother, 22, says she has been fined £400 for fly-tipping after passers-by filled her bins with beer cans

‘Most household rubbish and recycling can be taken to a tip for free, there is absolutely no need to dump it at a recycling bank.’

In June Powys County Council fined a resident £400 after they were caught dumping cardboard on the floor next to a full recycling bin.

The bags were discovered by an enforcement officer, with CCTV monitoring the site then helping to track down the person responsible. 

Councillor Jackie Charlton, cabinet member for a Greener Powys, said she was ‘horrified’ by the types of rubbish dumped at recycling centres. 

‘Some of our residents have no respect, lazily choosing to fly-tip their waste in these community recycling facilities,’ she said. 

She added that locals were ‘under the illusion that if the recycling banks are full, they can just leave their items on the ground’.

‘This is totally inappropriate, it is illegal and constitutes as fly-tipping, as this local resident has found out to their cost,’ the council chief warned. 

Several charities actively discourage leaving clothing bags beside collection bins.

The Firefighters Charity says on its website: ‘Please do not leave your clothes beside the bank…if the bank is full’. The Ambulance Staff Charity, 

Janet Atkins, 59, was told by Northumberland County Council that she’d have to foot a large part of the bill to move the rubbish, which spread for 20 yards along her drive

Boston Borough Council has previously asked Asda to suspend the charity bins in the car park amid concerns of misbehaving.

Lincolnshire Live reports that thieves had been spotted ‘rummaging through the bins and leaving the site a mess’ in 2020.

The council said it spent more than £70,000 last year clearing up items that had been fly-tipped, and claimed the Asda collection point had been a trouble spot.   

Boston council leader Councillor Anne Dorrian said this money could have been used to help vulnerable residents or support essential services. 

Insisting there was ‘ample provision’ in the borough for locals to recycle their goods, she added everyone has a ‘personal responsibility to dispose of their unwanted belongings responsibly’.

She told MailOnline: ‘We know that the vast majority of residents in our area dispose of their unwanted items responsibly – it’s just the small minority who choose not to – and the feedback we consistently receive from residents is that they want us to tackle those who discard their possessions irresponsibly.’

The Local Government Authority, which represents more than 350 councils across England and Wales, said tougher fines were needed. 

A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Fly-tipping is a blight on our local areas and a real concern for communities.

‘Councils take considered decisions on how to tackle and deter incidences of fly-tipping, which represent a significant financial burden to council taxpayers. Last year councils dealt with 1.1million incidents of fly-tipping, the last annual recorded clear-up bill came in at almost £60million.

‘Ultimately councils want to deter fly-tipping in the first place. We want to see new sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping, to make court action more worthwhile, and we want a system allowing us to track the source of fly-tipped waste.’

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