Parvy Goyal, who runs a Costcutter in the London Borough of Lambeth, used to have a Lambeth Council dustbin. But he got fed up with the council's bin-siting edicts so he went private. For a while Marshall Waste collected the rubbish and Parvy has the invoices to prove it. The company has since moved away from the area.
Now Parvy has received a notice from Lambeth Street Care requiring him as "a transferor of controlled waste" to produce transfer notes for a period of up to two years. It is a pretty intimidating-looking bit of paper with its top half covered in references to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 2003 (with its amendments) and the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989.
The bottom half is all about the penalties. If Parvy did not produce the required certificate of transfer he could be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (£5,000) and on conviction to a further, unspecified fine. Alternatively he might be offered an opportunity to pay a fixed penalty notice for £300 - or, even better, £180 if he paid within 10 days.
"When I spoke to the council," says Parvy, "they said I had been using a company that wasn't registered with the Environment Agency. How was I supposed to know that?"
He wanted to know if I could get anywhere with this. I was neither hopeful of getting through to the company (which proved correct) nor of getting through to anyone other than a jobsworth on the council. This proved incorrect. Nice as pie was Lambeth.
The bloke i/c waste said it was Marshall that must, by law, issue the transfer note and that the statutory notice that Parvy had received was a form letter, nothing personal.
As for the paragraph about the penalties, it's a bit like the parking fine one: settle early, it'll be cheaper.
Parvy is now in dialogue with Lambeth and hopefully no longer in the penalty zone.