The Bath team that aims to educate traders over waste collections
By Bath Chronicle | Saturday, October 27, 2012, 07:00
As the shutters come down and the tourists head home, there's a group of men in Bath whose job is just beginning.
Late at night, members of Bath and North East Somerset Council's environmental protection team hit the streets on the look-out for bags of rubbish.
The aim of the three-man patrols is to stop shops, pubs and restaurants leaving rubbish out before it is due for collection.
Led by environmental protection manager, Aled Williams, the cleansing enforcement officers walk the streets of Bath looking for fly-tipping, littering, graffiti, fly-posting and commercial waste.
Businesses in the city have two windows of opportunity to get commercial waste collected – between 5pm and 8.45pm and 7.30am to 10am.
Mr Williams explained: "With trade waste in the city centre and across B&NES, they have to present their waste at certain times, either early morning or at night.
"This means between just before 9pm at night until early morning there's no waste on the streets.
"Another part of it is a duty of care on the part of the business. The responsibility sits with the business to ensure their waste is sited appropriately and contained appropriately until such time as it's collected by somebody else."
He added: "Bags that are left out overnight will be kicked by people or scavenged by animals. If we've got a split bag first thing in the morning that will cause a hell of a problem.
"There is plenty of opportunity for them to get waste collected so it's not out in the streets all day, every day."
When the team comes across rubbish left outside a business and outside the allowed collection times, the team's first job is to collect evidence. The enforcement officers will take photos of the rubbish in the street to put it in context, they then open the rubbish to find evidence that can link it to a specific business, such as coat hangers, letterheads or plastic bags.
If rubbish is traced to a specific business, the team's first course of action is to engage with the firm and remind it of its responsibilities but if it happens again a £100 fixed penalty notice is issued, which businesses have 21 days to appeal against. Further breaches can lead to prosecution.
However, Mr Williams added enforcement was more than just about issuing fixed penalty notices.
He said: "That first stage is really important for us – it's the business support stage and the key thing with enforcement is behaviour change."
Mr Williams said there were plenty of options for businesses having difficulty controlling their waste volumes, such as increasing the frequency at which they have rubbish collected or assessing how stock is managed.
Another responsibility for the enforcement team is checking that businesses, particularly takeaways, have the correct trade waste agreement in place. Failure to provide a satisfactory contract can result in a penalty notice of £300.
The enforcement team also monitors Keynsham, Radstock, Midsomer Norton and Twerton High Street.