I photographed this man dumping builder’s rubble into a Bexley Council plastics
bin after forcing its lid off in October 2016 I didn’t expect to be still writing about it 17 months later. I sent the
of him caught in the act to Bexley’s Head of Waste and a neighbour sent video.
We were asked if we would be willing to be witnesses if there was a prosecution and then everything went quiet. Enquiries went unanswered. A year later I submitted a Freedom of Information request which was acknowledged but never answered. A reminder suffered the same fate so a complaint went to the Information Commissioner. It had the desired effect and the excuses for doing almost nothing are quite revealing.
The open truck was traced to a Registered Keeper in the Midlands but he claimed to have sold the vehicle before the incident occurred. He couldn’t remember who he had sold it to and was reported to the police for failing to register the sale.
A heavily redacted email reveals that Head of Waste Steve Didsbury did intend to report back to both my neighbour and me but he and others managed to confuse my report with a later one (March 2017) from ward Councillor Danny Hackett. Danny was concerned about two yellow vans that were dumped nearby on private property.
Bexley Council’s FOI response tells me that they can do nothing about those two vans. “Regarding the other two vans in the photographs, one is registered SORN and the other is unregistered, untaxed and uninsured. There is no offence of fly-tipping being committed”.
What is that all about? I made no reference to yellow vans in my original report and sent only the three photos of the open truck and the man pictured above. I made no reference to yellow vans in my FOI either.
In mid-December 2016, long before the matter became confused by Councillor Hackett’s yellow van pictures, Councillor Craske was told that “the photographs provided do not legally show that the person was committing an offence”. Did he not look at the photos? They showed a man transferring rubbish from his truck to a Council bin. What could be clearer?
The yellow vans are still in situ and according to residents who live in the adjacent flat, they have been for at least the past eight years.
Mr. Didsbury has sent his apologies for never keeping me updated about my report of 11th October 2016 but he and others were totally confused by the fact that two derelict vans were parked nearby which had nothing whatsoever to do with the three photos I had submitted.
The whole episode demonstrates incompetence on the part of Bexley Council. Failing to provide an update on my submission until compelled by the Information Commissioner, being defeated by an unregistered vehicle - surely it must have been picked up by ANPR cameras by now? - and confusing my report with Councillor Hackett’s about two different vehicles made five months after mine.
Incompetence rules OK?