Shrublands women crowdfund to pay council’s harsh fine

Two young women from the Shrublands Estate in Shirley are appealing for help in paying council fines of up to £300 after they were both served with fixed notice penalties for… putting their recycling out for collection.

Shefa (right) and Bela say that large items of other people’s rubbish are often left by the bins on the estate, with no council action taken

Farhana Shefa and Gladis Bela have until Wednesday to pay the council £200, or face the charge being hiked by another hundred quid. And all because they put their rubbish out for Veolia to collect…

Because the fines represent money that the two women – one a student nurse, the other a shop-worker – simply do not have, they have set up a crowdfunding page in the hope that friends, family, neighbours and even Inside Croydon readers might be able to assist them deal with the injustice.

The council will doubtless chalk up the fixed penalty notices as two more “victories”, alongside the dropped cigarette butts and other minor offences, as they seek to inflate the number of “successes” in their losing battle against fly-tippers.

In fact, the case of Shefa and Bela simply highlights the poor service provided to some residents by Veolia, and the council’s indiscriminate bullying tactics deployed against those who try to do the right thing.

Rubbish and recycling collections on the estate are irregular and the communal bins are regularly left overflowing. As can be seen in the photograph (above) that Shefa and Bela took yesterday, other residents often leave bulky items, including mattresses, at the side of the bins.

Under pandemic lockdown conditions, the women took a delivery that arrived in a cardboard box that was too large to fit inside the recycling bins. So they left it on top of the bins for Veolia to remove.

While the bedsteads, mattresses and other large objects dumped anonymously near the refuse area escape any sanctions, in this instance a council official took the women’s names and addresses from the packages and both received penalty notices.

Bins on the Shrublands Estate are often full to overflowing

The women were shocked, and they also quickly discovered that there is no appeal process. When they wrote to the council to explain that they understood that they had followed the correct procedure, all they received in reply was a hostile official letter from another council functionary.

“I feel like the council do not actually care about the fly-tipping, they are just looking for the easy way to benefit from people in an already deprived area and that is why I am being fined,” Bela told Inside Croydon.

“I contacted the council and tried to explain my situation. I explained to them that me being a nursing student, this fine will affect me a lot – it means that I won’t be able to afford my books, my uniform and also accommodation.

“I apologised and promised to never do it again, but they refused to understand my point of view and have chosen to proceed with the fine.”

Shefa said, “I feel very annoyed about the fine because I’m not the only one doing this. Where are we supposed to put our big rubbish?

The council’s response to both women was a stern rebuke in officialese, with no discretion shown

“We’re going through a global pandemic and it isn’t right to issue a fine when we are financially struggling.

“I am only working part-time and money is tight. I have my rent to pay, Council Tax, petrol, food and all my other bills. This is giving me stress, and I have other important things to worry about.”

Shefa highlighted the injustice of a system which punishes those who try to do the right thing, while those who do fly-tip escape all sanctions. “Since we’ve been living here, people have always put their big rubbish there. I have complained to the council many times about this, but I’ve never heard back.

“I feel like the council isn’t willing to help or understand how we as the community feel.”


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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8 Responses to Shrublands women crowdfund to pay council’s harsh fine

  1. Moya Gordon says:

    That’s awful. The council should not fine these people.

  2. Lewis White says:

    Fly tipping is a scourge, with flagrant genuine fly-tipping as common as ever. Usually after dark, the tailgate on the open-back tipper truck unclipped, the body raised, and the van shot forwards, leaving a heap of builder waste on the roadside verge. Who clears it up? Yes, the poor old Council. Cash-strapped, with better things to do with its money, like upgrading its houses and leisure centres. But having to spend millions on clearing up after selfish, and cynical law-breakers have dumped it.

    As a local authority landscape architect, in the 80s-2000’s, I designed many a bin area and recycling area as projects to improve housing estates. Many of the estates were designed in the era of the dustbin, when the volume of waste was small. Rubbish and recycling are now a big headache for estate managers.

    As the world has got more prosperous, people buy more. The sense of caring for where we live and those around us seems to have gone, at least in the moral sense of those who dump mattresses and the like.

    Once, there were little slots on tower block landings, equipped with hinged trays, the access to the waste shutes. The openings were barely bigger than Royal mail post box openings. You could put a pedal bin liner and its contents down there. Nothing much bigger. These still exist, ending at the bottom in what used to be called “Paladin bins” (round in shape) or now “extra large Euro Bins” (rectangular) . Modern kitchen bins are now obese, and people have to walk to a Euro bin in most cases, unless they have their own Wheelie.

    As waste volumes, and packaging has increased, many estates added other bin areas to cope with bigger items of waste. Sometimes, the solution is merely a Euro Bin parked up somewhere (like the appalling examples in the photo of the article above. They typify the worst-case senario, with bins marrooned willy-nilly in an area, without any enclosure. If people leave the rubbish next to the bin becauise it is full or they can’t be bothered to lift the rubbish up and chick it in, the results are a mess strewn halo of filth n the grass or on the paving around the bin.

    Really, bins need to be in a three-sided brick enclosure, to give some degree of containment, or in a well -designed full enclosure, with a simple ramp and step access to elevate the person above the level f the bin, so that they can throw the rubbish in. I have designed bin stores like this, with attarctive timber or steel pergolas on top. I have seen some really lovely ones with beautiful brick columns and stone cappings, like greek temples or 18th century country house gateways.
    “Temples to rubbish” as someone I met said. I wish I had coined that wonderful phrase.

    How ever good your bin store design, be it simple or temple-like, the key things needed are regular emptying and management / cleansing of the area where bins are stationed. .

    The ladies in the Inside Croydon feature are clearly innocent of fly-tipping with intent, but like many, they have deposited their “big recycling” in a place where it should not be placed. The big cardboard should ideally have been taken to a paper and card bank. Was there one on their estate? If the recycling or general bins were all full to overflowing, they have my sympathy.

    Simple enclosures with signage, and special places for legally placing “bulk refuse”, like matteresses and fridges– are probably needed where they live, but above all, we live in world without caretakers on even big council estates. In the old days, they usually had speciaol areas which acted as holding bays until the council took the items away.

    Overflowing Euro bins should be the exception, not the rule. Sadly, the volume of rubbish now is a tidal wave. Few council estates have recycling areas. Dumped rubbish does not breed, but attracts more, and areas become regarded as dumps, rather than bin stores or recycling centres. .

    Rubbish needs to be tamed, planners in councils need to insist on well-designed and large-enough bin areas on all new developments, and housing managers need to plan bin locations where they will be used but not abused. People need to dump rubbish properly. Clear signage, Education and even fines may be needed, but above all, respect is needed for the environment and for other residents. And the frequency of collections needs to be timed to avoid routinely-overflowing bins. The latter are unacceptable.

  3. Frances Fearon says:

    The Council’s Lazy Way Out, for which it will claim success in finding and fining fly tippers. This is an absolute disgrace.

    Fly-tipping is rife in Croydon. Local people are out every day clearing up after those who do not care. These lovely ladies are not those people and I’m happy to donate to their crowdfunder. In fact, If I was paid the ££££ that Tony Newman et.al pull in, I would pay it all for them plus a recompense for their distress.

  4. The young ladies are not fly-tippers. They were easy prey.

    Croydon Council should have exercised leniency when they explained what the had done and why. Instead, they were inflexible and showed no empathy for the hardship the young ladies would suffer.

    One local lady gave £1 and I thought it was a wonderful gesture of solidarity.

    Please help if you can. Thank you.

  5. Sebastian Tillinger says:

    Negrini’s New Croydon.

  6. Gary Smith says:

    Why should they not be fined. Just because others illegally dump stuff doesn’t make it right. The cost of clearing this is just passed on to all the other council tax payers.

  7. Dan Kelly says:

    I think the Council’s action for one act of carelessness is over the top. A warning letter would have sufficed.
    Considering one of these two young ladies is studying for a nursing degree their ineptitude is alarming.
    If the box was too big for the bin why didn’t they collapse it and cut it up. If there was no room in the bin they could have kept it and then put it in after the bin was emptied.
    What if there was rain over night, who do they expect to clean up the soggy mess?
    Most carelessly of all they must have left the address label on the box. Luckily for them some very kind people have paid for them. What they have overlooked is that address labels often have information that’s useful to identity thieves let alone Council officers!

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