A MUM has criticised a council after being hauled before magistrates accused of leaving a rubbish bag just outside a bin shed.
Victoria Hedley, 31, and her father Douglas Hurrell, 70, appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court accused of fly-tipping.
Wardens from Havant Borough Council found letters with their names inside the bin bag, which was left at Mrs Hedley’s block of flats in Partridge Gardens, Wecock.
Mr Hurrell was only summonsed to court after junk mail with his name on it was found in the bin bag.
Pregnant Mrs Hedley, who appeared in court with her baby in a pram, acknowledged the bin bag was from her house.
But she says said her husband – who is abroad – left it outside the gate of the bin bay area.
It’s caused me a lot of stress. I thought I was going to be arrested.Victoria Hedley
The council withdrew the charge of fly-tipping, which carries a maximum fine of £50,000 and 12 months in jail.
But Mrs Hedley and Mr Hurrell were furious at what they called a heavy-handed approach.
Mrs Hedley said: ‘I’ve never been in trouble with the law in my life.
‘They haven’t got a picture of me putting it there. It was not like the rubbish was scattered everywhere. It takes you two minutes to get into the gate.’
She added: ‘My husband was putting the rubbish out. They haven’t even spoken to him. It’s caused me a lot of stress. I thought I was going to be arrested.’
Mr Hurrell said: ‘It’s disgusting. I live in Southsea and they said I had been dumping bin bags in Waterlooville.’
Mrs Hedley and Mr Hurrell say they did not hear from the council until a week before the hearing.
Council officials said court is always the last resort and people are offered the chance to pay a fixed penalty notice before legal action is taken.
At least five people are going to court on March 30 after pleading guilty to leaving bin bags outside the designated bin shed area.
Councillor Tony Briggs, who leads environment, said: ‘If you drop a bin bag on the highway, it’s a criminal offence.
‘It’s litter. What do you think would happen if we didn’t do anything? Can you imagine the state of the borough?’
He strongly defended the council’s actions and said it had to get tough on fly-tipping and littering.
He said: ‘I am determined to stamp it out. If we need to take harsh measures, we will do so.’
n A charge of fly-tipping was also dropped against Laura Fitzgerald, 25, of Magpie Walk, Wecock, after she argued she put the rubbish bag down a bin chute and it must have fallen on to a fully-loaded container.