Photo emerges of fly-tipping that landed Stoke-on-Trent mum on benefits with £400 fine – but is it fair?


Council bosses have today defended a decision to hand a single mum-of-three on benefits a £400 fly-tipping fine.

A photo has been released to StokeonTrentLive of part of a shed, a TV and children’s toys which had been left in an alleyway behind Oriel Street, Penkhull.

They had been carefully placed there by Sarah Capewell who was waiting for the tips to reopen so her dad could dispose of the items properly.

The 34-year-old believes the fixed penalty notice was grossly excessive in proportion to the ‘crime’ as she was only trying to give her children somewhere safe to play during lockdown.

And she also pointed out that the items were not blocking the alley and there was nothing that could attract vermin.

But Stoke-on-Trent City Council has hit now hit back saying she has no right to use ‘public space as a ‘dumping ground’.

The items Sarah Capewell left in an alleyway at the back of her home in Oriel Street, Penkhull

Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for environment, said: “The fly-tipping was brought to our attention after we received a complaint from a resident who was rightly unhappy about the mess, which included the remains of a shed, an old TV and children’s toys.

“Miss Capewell had no right to treat a public space as a dumping ground and she admits herself she left the rubbish there for about three weeks, creating a danger to others and a public health risk in that time.

“Most people take pride in their neighbourhood and as a council we are committed to working with residents and businesses to keep our streets clean.

“Unfortunately like many other areas in the country, we did experience a rise in fly-tipping during the initial lockdown period and this fine is one of more than 80 we handed out.

“We have a zero-tolerance approach to fly-tipping and anyone who is caught can expect to be fined or prosecuted. Our residents are rightly outraged when they fly-tipping in the city and we know they support this action.”

Sarah Capewell wanted to create space so her children could play in the backyard

Sarah – who is mum to M-J Stubbs, aged 11, Phoebe Stubbs, aged five, and two-year-old Evie Stubbs – said: “I had no notification and it happened on the day the tips were opening. I had already arranged to get rid of it.

“They had been there for three weeks but they weren’t blocking the way and they were right up against my wall. If it was fly-tipping would I put it right outside my house?

“It wasn’t sticking out at all. There was no obstruction.

“£400 seems very unreasonable when you consider it was leaning up against my fence.”





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