Mum fined for leaving donations of clothes next to overflowing charity bins

Caption: Exclusive: Single mum\'s anger after she is fined for leaving donations next to clothes recycling bin   Pictures: w8media / Elena Middleton
Elena Middleton was fined £80 after leaving a sealed cardboard box, before others left plastic bags with items, by a donations point (Picture: w8media/ Elena Middleton)

A mum of three was fined by a council for leaving a donation of her children’s old clothing and toys in a cardboard box next to overflowing recycling bins.

Elena Middleton was tracked down by enforcement officers in east London after they found her friend’s address on a label attached to the re-used Next package.

The part-time cleaner says she was told by an official that leaving the sealed, neatly-folded box overnight was the same as ‘spitting or throwing a cigarette on the floor’.

She told Metro.co.uk that he had found her friend’s phone number via her postal address before coming to her home in Beckton, where she agreed to pay the £80 fine.

The single mum is angry at having to pay money she can ill afford to lose from her household budget, which includes supporting her autistic 16-year-old son, when she was trying to think of others.

She had left the donation next to the red, on-street banks near her home on Dockside Road, outside Royal Albert DLR station, on Sunday, January 16.

‘The bins were so full they wouldn’t even open, everything was just hanging out of the slots,’ she said.

‘I put my box very neatly next to the bins and I just left. The next day my friend called me and said the council had phoned her about the box.

‘I called the person at the council and he said because I had admitted I had left the box I would have to pay a fine, either at the office or at my house.

‘I said it is easier if he came to my house. He said I had committed an offence by leaving rubbish on the floor, and it was same offence as spitting or throwing a cigarette on the floor.

‘I said it wasn’t rubbish, it was children’s clothing and toys. I asked him what would have happened if I had left it on top of the red bins, and he said it wouldn’t have been an offence.

‘I was really offended that he was comparing me to someone dumping rubbish when I was trying to do something good.

‘It was the evening, I have three children and I was tired, I just assumed they would empty the bins soon.

‘I’ve been honest and tried to think of others when they should have been emptying the bins, yet I’ve ended up being fined, it’s ridiculous.’

W8media A mum of three was fined by a council for leaving donations of children???s clothing and toys in a box next to an overflowing council donations bin. Elena Middleton, 49, was tracked down by her local council after officials found her friend???s address on a label attached to the packaging. Pictured near her east London home-
Elena Middleton with the fixed penalty notice issued for leaving donations of her children’s toys and clothes by a recycling bank (Picture: w8media)

Ms Middleton, 49, says as soon as she spoke with the council on the phone the following afternoon she went back to retrieve the box and put the items in her household rubbish.

The fixed penalty notice, reduced to £50 for early payment, will hit her weekly budget, from which she also provides for her other children, aged 15 and seven. The fine was issued for the ‘deposit of 1 x box’ under neighbourhood and environmental protection laws.

‘I didn’t really know how to react but I had to pay as I had admitted I had left the box and he said if I paid within 10 days it would be £50, with the maximum being £2,500,’ Ms Middleton said.

‘I have a really low salary as I can only work part-time because of my children and it’s half a week’s food shopping.

‘It is so unfair that I was punished for trying to be a responsible citizen while the council does not empty recycling points when it is needed.’

Elena Middleton found the red recycling bins in east London to be overflowing with a jacket stuck in the slot (Picture: Elena Middleton)
Elena Middleton found the red recycling bins in east London to be overflowing with clothing stuck in the slots (Picture: Elena Middleton)
The box was left neatly placed and sealed beside the overflowing red banks before others left plastic bags around it (Picture: Elena Middleton)
The box was left neatly placed and sealed beside the overflowing red banks before others left plastic bags around it (Picture: Elena Middleton)

The donation point, which carries British Heart Foundation branding, is among 80 provided by Newham Council, which says on its website that the bins are regularly emptied.

A spokesperson said: ‘We encourage residents to pass unwanted items onto charities so others can make use of them.

‘However, items should not be left next to recycling bins.

‘If the bins are full we ask residents to take the items to another recycling bin or take the items back home.

‘We have to take a zero-tolerance approach to illegally dumped waste on the streets of Newham as it looks unsightly and can create a hazard to others. Newham spends £1 million a year to clean up fly-tipping, so all the community benefits with us getting tough on illegal dumping in Newham.’

The spokesperson also flagged the council’s new campaign to tackle illegal dumping.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact josh.layton@metro.co.uk

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