Businesses in Brighton and Hove are being threatened with ‘unfair’ fines for rubbish they did not dump, retailers have said.
One business managed to get the fine waived after help from the local MP, but another paid the fine, feeling they had no other option.
A Coombs, a family-run pet shop in Baker Street, Brighton, was handed a fine by an enforcement officer after a box with the company address on it was found in a bin in Hollingbury.
Robert Harper, who owns the shop and has worked there since 1959, said: “I was just serving customers when he came in, he kept pointing to his chest saying it is being recorded. He showed me a picture of a bin and there was a box in a bin. We deliver to customers two or three days a week, sometimes people ask if there can have a box.
“I have never dumped anything. It is a bit upsetting. We’ve got all the right certificates. They said we have got 14 days to pay. We have got to pay £300, then he said it was £600.”
Mr Harper said he was told there was no appeal process, and it wasn’t until his son contacted Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, who got involved, that the fine was waived.
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesperson said: “Following a conversation with staff at the shop, we have cancelled the fine. This has been confirmed in writing. We accept that the waste could have been left by a customer after making a purchase at the store and it is clear that this business takes its responsibility for waste disposal seriously.
“We investigate cases on an individual basis when complaints are received.”
Another pet shop G&D Sanders in Hove, was given a £300 fine after a box with the company’s address was found at the recycling centre.
Gary Sanders, who owns the shop, ended up paying the fine as there was no appeal process. Mr Sanders said: “We used to give boxes away when people were moving. I don’t do that anymore. There was a box at the recycling centre with my name and address on it. The fine was for the waste that had been put in a recycling bin. It’s just madness.”
The council added: “Anyone who feels they have been wrongly given a fixed penalty notice can make a representation to our contractor, 3GS, in the first instance. If they are still concerned, or wish to give more general feedback, they can write to the council.
“Any cases referred to the council are reviewed on an individual basis to ensure that fixed penalty notices are issued correctly.”