12:00PM, Wednesday 21 July 2021
A Windsor keyworker is facing a hefty fine for fly-tipping – despite having taken care to dispose of waste conscientiously.
Sidonie Garcia de la Rosa of Oxford Road is a teacher for children with special education needs, and is currently recovering from two surgeries.
She was issued a fine of £400 for placing a cardboard box at the Windsor Leisure Centre recycling bins a week ago.
The fine came from District Enforcement, the company contracted to police environmental offences in the borough.
The bins were full and she left the box on top of the bin. As the box had her address printed on it, District Enforcement visited her home address.
Sidonie said that at 8.15am on Saturday, an enforcement officer persistently rang her doorbell. She said she was filmed while still dressed in nightclothes.
“My front door opens to a busy road and I felt very humiliated,” Sidonie said. “I have worked all the way through lockdown, I am absolutely exhausted and need to rest at weekends.”
The officer told her that there was a sign at the leisure centre, warning residents not to drop off rubbish there.
Sidonie says that, depending on which angle you enter the site, the sign is not visible.
“The officer kept talking about the fine without telling me how much and how I could contest it,” she said. “I told him this was causing me stress.”
The fine will be reduced to £200 if Sidonie pays within two weeks. Her only other option to contest it is to go to court and risk a fine of up to £50,000.
“It wouldn’t have crossed my mind to use my car and drive for 10 miles to the Maidenhead (refuse) site just to drop one box,” she said.
“Surely this action would have been much more detrimental to the environment.”
The fine, even if reduced, will make it ‘impossible’ for Sidonie to take a break to visit family this summer as planned – family she has not seen in a year.
“This is hugely affecting my mental health,” she said.
“I am a good citizen, a key worker who has supported the mental health of children with learning disabilities and their families all throughout the COVID crisis.
“I take environment issues very seriously and have supported recycling projects at my school for many years – hence me taking the cardboard to the recycling site. I acted in good faith.”
The spokesman for the Royal Borough said:
“Fly-tipping is a nationally legislated offence with penalties set by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
“As with many offences where fines can be issued, these are set in order to deter people from committing the offence in the first place.
“The council has given District Enforcement clear and defined delegated powers, with authorised officers following current legislative guidelines.
“Officers receive intensive introductory training and ongoing professional development to maintain the high standards required by us.
“District Enforcement has our support and is fully accountable to the council for its actions. This is reviewed monthly.
“The council has weekly kerbside recycling collections, which includes cardboard. We have placed large advisory signs at all recycling centres and bins are emptied regularly.”
Theresa May MP has been receiving direct correspondence from concerned residents about District Enforcement. She said: “I appreciate the concern this matter has caused those on the receiving end of these enforcement measures.
“While we all want to ensure that our streets are free from litter and that the few who do litter face consequences, enforcement must be appropriate.
“I have recently spoken to the leadership team at the RBWM who have confirmed to me that they are looking into these complaints.”
Recently, the council discussed dropping the controversial contract.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, we incorrectly stated that the box was placed at Braywick Leisure Centre in Maidenhead. It was placed at Windsor Leisure Centre. We apologise for this error.
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