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.
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.
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?
“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.”
- If you would like to help shopworker Farhana Shefa and student nurse Gladis Bela pay this harsh fine, visit their crowdfunding page by clicking here now
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