£15,000 for cardboard boxes?

September 23, 2011 2:05 PM

Waltham Forest Council have spent £15,000 taking a company to court after a cardboard box bearing its name was found among fly-tipped rubbish. The boxes had been given to a passer-by who said he could make use of them. However, one ended up being dumped and the council wasted little time in taking action against the company whose name and address was listed on the packaging. It went to court and Judge Alex Milne QC described the case as a ”monumental waste of public time and money”.

Fly-tipping is a problem. But instances such as this shows councils should apply discretion, proportionality and common sense. To spend such a large amount on a small non-case is a waste of Waltham Forest taxpayers’ cash.



Had the company been found to be in the wrong, it would have set a dangerous precedent for businesses wanting to get rid of their empty boxes by giving them to someone who can make better use of them. Everyday, community-spirited gestures might have stopped for fear of future prosecutions. If, say, someone is moving house and asks their local shop or pub for unwanted boxes, they may be loath to cooperate. And anyway, local authorities taking firms to court in cases as ridiculous as this just isn't the best way to say that their area is open for business.

The Telegraph’s David Hughes points out the local authority’s Band D council tax payment is almost £1,500 per year, meaning that ten households’ council tax for the year has been blown chasing after a cardboard box. The council should be finding the best value for taxpayers' hard-earned money, not prosecuting businesses on pointless cases that serve no legitimate purpose.Waltham Forest Council have spent £15,000 taking a company to court after a cardboard box bearing its name was found among fly-tipped rubbish. The boxes had been given to a passer-by who said he could make use of them. However, one ended up being dumped and the council wasted little time in taking action against the company whose name and address was listed on the packaging. It went to court and Judge Alex Milne QC described the case as a ”monumental waste of public time and money”.

Fly-tipping is a problem. But instances such as this shows councils should apply discretion, proportionality and common sense. To spend such a large amount on a small non-case is a waste of Waltham Forest taxpayers’ cash.



Had the company been found to be in the wrong, it would have set a dangerous precedent for businesses wanting to get rid of their empty boxes by giving them to someone who can make better use of them. Everyday, community-spirited gestures might have stopped for fear of future prosecutions. If, say, someone is moving house and asks their local shop or pub for unwanted boxes, they may be loath to cooperate. And anyway, local authorities taking firms to court in cases as ridiculous as this just isn't the best way to say that their area is open for business.

The Telegraph’s David Hughes points out the local authority’s Band D council tax payment is almost £1,500 per year, meaning that ten households’ council tax for the year has been blown chasing after a cardboard box. The council should be finding the best value for taxpayers' hard-earned money, not prosecuting businesses on pointless cases that serve no legitimate purpose.

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