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National HMO Lobby



Representation on
Waste Collection

I write in response to the Consultation on amending the powers of Local Authorities regarding presentation of waste for collection. I write on behalf of the National HMO Lobby, which is a national association of local community associations concerned about the impact on their communities of concentrations of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). One of the main concerns of residents is the problems of waste collection where such concentrations arise. The commonest instance of HMO concentrations is of shared student houses, and therefore most of our member organisations are in university towns.

Our answers to your questions are as follows:

Question 1: Which Option do you consider to be the best? Please provide evidence to support your views.

The National HMO Lobby considers that of the two Options offered, Option 1 is preferable, 'Civil penalties with an underpinning criminal offence'. In support, I attach a Briefing Bulletin on Rubbish Bins prepared by the Lobby, comprising selected comments from a survey of members' experiences of problems with waste collection from student houses. It is very clear from these responses that in the very specific circumstances of HMO concentrations, waste collection is an endemic problem, which few authorities (if any) have succeeded in solving. The Lobby considers therefore that these LAs requires the maximum possible sanctions in order to tackle the problems.

Question 2: Do you think there should still be an underpinning criminal offence (and the possibility of a criminal conviction) for failing to comply with a Section 46 Notice?

Yes, this threat is unlikely to be utilised, but it is important to have it available, to indicate the importance of the problem.

Question 3: Do you think local authorities should write to householders before taking action under Section 46? Is there anything else they should do before issuing a fixed penalty notice?

The National HMO Lobby considers that local authorities should be able to act as promptly as possible. When whole streets leave their bins on pavements, obstructing pedestrians, damaging amenity, encouraging bin abuse, it is important that LAs are able to act speedily - to set an immediate example, which will quickly be communicated from one offending household to another.

Question 4: What kinds of actions would you consider to cause sufficient nuisance to others (the “harm to local amenity test”) to warrant a financial penalty?

As the Consultation paper says, "Under Section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Local Authorities may instruct householders how to present their rubbish for collection." A very common instruction is to put out rubbish bins on a specified day, and return them to the property immediately after collection. Failure to do so 'harms local amenity'. Such harm comprises -

(1) disfiguring the streetscene, by leaving bins and associated rubbish on the public highway: un-returned bins are an eyesore;

(2) obstructing the highway, not only for ordinary pedestrians (who may be obliged to step into the road), but more especially for the visually impaired, for carers with push-chairs, or for the wheel-chair bound: un-returned bins are a health and safety hazard;

(3) encouraging bin abuse, that is, over-turning, using the bins for 'games' (races, etc) or for 'jokes' (obstructing the street, placing on parked cars, etc): un-returned bins invite antisocial behaviour.

Question 5: What level of financial penalty would you consider to be correct for failing the “harm to local amenity test” – the current fixed penalty (£75 - £110)? £60 - £80? A lower amount?

The National HMO Lobby recommends retaining the present level of financial penalty.

Question 6: Under current arrangements, local authorities retain the receipts from any Fixed Penalty Notices issued. What are your views on local authorities only keeping their processing costs, rather than the full amount of the penalty, under a new civil sanction regime?

The National HMO Lobby considers that local authorities should keep the full amount of any Fixed Penalty Notices, to put towards improvements in waste collection, especially recycling.

Question 7: What would be the right level of fine under the underpinning criminal offence (if retained) for failure to comply with a Section 46 Notice (currently this is up to £1000)?

The National HMO Lobby considers that the present level of fine should be retained.

Question 8: Do you think householders should be able to appeal against penalties under Section 46?


Dr Richard Tyler, Co-ordinator, National HMO Lobby, 7 March 2012


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