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Southend Council has warned people not to dump unwanted goods outside of charity shops or they will be prosecuted for fly tipping and fined.
It comes after people began leaving items outside shops which have had to close until further notice due to coronavirus.
By treating the dumping as fly tipping it means people could face fines from the council and if it were to progress to court, those fines could be as high as £50,000.
The council has said people should store the unwanted items in their home until shops are ready to reopen. It has also stressed that making trips to charity shops is not considered essential and should not be done under government advice.
Councillor Carole Mulroney, who oversees the environment, said: “It is disappointing to see the rise in unwanted items being dumped at charity shops.
“In normal circumstances they would welcome such donations. But these are not normal circumstances.
“The charity shops are shut so anything that is left at them will be treated as fly tipping and that leaves the person dumping the material open to a fine and quite rightly so, there is no excuse.
“It also shows a lack of understanding of the severity of the current situation.
“Leaving your home to dump items outside a charity shop is not essential. It is making more work for the council’s waste collection staff and diverts them from keeping our essential services going.
“I appreciate many people are taking this unwelcome opportunity to have a clear out, I am doing it myself, but please do the right thing and keep these unwanted items in a safe place whilst the recycling centres remain closed, or alternatively, book a collection online.”
Southend is one of a number of councils across the country to warn against dumping outside charity shops, while others have struggled to deal with a surge in flytipping.
A large number of household recycling centres, including in Southend, were forced to close following the Covid-19 outbreak and in some areas waste collection services have also been scaled back.
The District Council’s Network, which speak out on behalf of 191 councils across the country, has pleaded with residents to minimise the rubbish they throw away.
The group called the current situation “a perfect storm” of growing levels of rubbish coinciding with challenges for councils in collecting it.