A kind-hearted gran was slapped with a £400 fine for flytipping after dropping off bags of unwanted clothes next to a packed charity donation bin.
Pauline Yarranton, 68, received the fixed penalty notice for placing two small bags of jumpers and T-shirts next to the over-filled clothes bank.
She left the bags by the clothes drop in her Nisa car park in Stourport, Worcs., last November.
Two weeks later Wyre Forest District Council’s community and environmental protection officer wrote to Pauline accusing her of flytipping.
The council ordered Pauline, who has five grandchildren, to pay £400 or risk being dragged to court.
But she refused to pay up and appealed the decision, arguing that she was being punished for trying to help people in need.
She said: “I placed items for those in need outside in front of a local recycling collection container.
“I did it because I thought I might be helping someone in need. To my shock weeks later I received a fine for £400 from the council.
“I was gobsmacked. I thought they had the wrong person.
“I looked further down the letter and saw my car registration number.
“I just can’t believe this happened because I was taking two bags of unwanted clothes – it was only jumpers and T-shirts and things like that.
“The charity shops at the time were not taking things at the time, because they were full from lockdown.
“I thought I would put them in the recycling bag and take them down to the recycling bank.
“This time, I couldn’t get my stuff into the bank. The door was wedged.
“I thought I will leave it in front of the bins – like I have done in the past. I didn’t think I was doing anything illegal.
“The bin was next to a busy little shop, if I was doing anything illegal, I wouldn’t be doing it in front of a load of people.
“I did take this further as I’d no idea this was an offence.”
Townhall chiefs then ordered Pauline to attend a meeting in December where she was grilled “under caution” for 30 minutes by two council officials.
She added: “I was interviewed by two local councillors. It was like a court set-up. Everything was recorded. It was really worrying.
“They had all the details. I explained my situation to them.
“The interviewers had said it had been reported by the shop next door to the charity clothes drop.
“At the end of the interview, I had three options, pay the fine, go to court, or take a caution. I took the caution.
“It was very worrying. I still couldn’t believe it had gone this far,” she continued.
“The only thing I have had in the past is a car parking fine. It is not nice after 68 years to have a caution over me.”
The retired hairdresser, of Stourport, Worcs., is now warning others to careful when donating items at clothes banks.
A yellow warning sticker has now been placed of the charity bin, which says, “If the bank is full please take your property home.”
Wyre Forest District Council website states: “Leaving items beside street bins and recycling banks, on the floor of communal bin areas, or outside closed recycling centres and charity shops are all flytipping.”
Councillor Helen Dyke, Leader of Wyre Forest District Council said: “We encourage all kinds of recycling, including donating unwanted clothing to charity shops or taking them to recycling banks. Textiles can’t be recycled in our kerbside scheme but they can be recycled at the Household Recycling Centres.”
“If someone is using a recycling bank they need to make sure they put their items inside it. If it is full please try another site or take them back when there is space. Any items left on the ground are deemed to be flytipping and the person who left them risks a fine or prosecution.
“Unfortunately it is also the case that one flytipped bag will attract others and the recycling sites quickly become unsightly and then we get many complaints,” Cllr Dyke said.