Reported in the Daily Mail that John Richards, an 84-year-old pensioner from Boston, Lincolnshire, has been fined £75 for dumping his rubbish - in a litter bin.
With ten days to go until his next fortnightly rubbish collection, John Richards wanted to avoid a stink in his kitchen. So he neatly packaged his food scraps in a carrier bag and deposited it in a public bin.
A few days later a letter arrived announcing he had been fined £75 - for misusing the bin by putting domestic refuse in it. Council snoopers had traced him after rummaging through the bag's contents, in which they found an envelope addressed to him (what kind of person gets job satisfaction from rooting through people's rubbish?).
Yesterday 84-year-old Mr Richards, of Boston, Lincolnshire, said: "I've been fined for putting my rubbish in a bin and that's just ludicrous. The council told me I was flytipping. But I've never thrown litter in my life. Lots of people do what I did. My bin bags are collected fortnightly, and I have only a very small back yard. It would be intolerable to keep rotting food waste indoors for a fortnight until the next collection rolls around."
Mr Richards is a retired journalist, and runs the Apostrophe Protection Society to promote the correct use of punctuation marks. He reluctantly paid the fine after being warned if he did not pay in 14 days the penalty would double and he could face a fine of up to £2,500 if he took the case to court. He added "The council say that litter is what you carry around with you and that what I put in the bin wasn't litter."
So far, just an ordinary story of official stupidity, and of the now-common syndrome of council officials who don't want to do the job they're paid for, and re-invent the world to suit themselves. It's not members of the Boston community who have invented this spurious distinction between "rubbish" and "litter", is it? And I'm sure it wasn't Mr.Richards or anyone else on the electoral roll who decided they wanted their bins emptied only once a fortnight. That's all for the convenience of the council.
But there's a sting in the tail of the newspaper report, and one that presages the dawn of a new age of vicious, underhand vigilantes, of local communities broken apart by officially-backed sneaking and spying. The council have used the columns of the local newspaper to ask readers to identify people like Mr.Richards from CCTV pictures.
Now, like the rubbish Boston Council are paid to collect, that stinks.
The GOS says: Now, hang on a minute. Does anyone notice anything odd about this story?
The council say they identified Mr.Richards from an envelope in the bin. And on that basis, they've tried him, convicted him and fined him? And if he wants to fight the case in court, he faces a £2,500 fine?
There are a hundred different ways an envelope with your name and address on it can find its way into a litter bin, and quite a few ways in which it might find itself in someone else's rubbish too. I frequently use old envelopes to jot down notes (look, it's the bl**dy environment, right? I'm saving trees, right?). If I give one of my notes to someone and they put it in their own rubbish, is that my fault? And just how the hell am I expected to prove that it wasn't my rubbish?
For G*d's sake!
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