Wirral Council: Bookshop owner fined over sandwich wrapper
A second-hand bookshop owner has been fined £300 after a company classed the remnants of her lunch as commercial waste.
Cathy Roberts was penalised for not having a waste transfer licence by disposal enforcement firm, Kingdom, operating on behalf of Wirral Council.
A councillor said businesses had complained to him that Kingdom staff were acting like bailiffs.
The council said it had suspended its current enforcement campaign.
It also said it would "consider any appeals" to the fines.
Business owners have told the BBC that Kingdom staff claim to be council employees to enter their premises and then say they must be shown a record of how items such as tea bags and milk cartons are disposed of as they are commercial waste.
Ms Roberts, who co-owns Literally bookshop in New Brighton, said when a Kingdom worker saw she had no commercial waste he said the newspapers, sweet papers and sandwich wrapper she was about to dispose of were trade waste and she needed a licence.
"We are a second-hand bookshop, we don't generate business rubbish," she said. "I was astonished."
Ms Roberts said she was furious and had emails from the Environment Agency confirming items such as sandwich or sweet wrappers are not counted as business waste.
Mel Neilson, who owns the Holistic Hub in Wallasey Village, said she was also fined for telling a Kingdom employee, who posed as a council worker, she put waste in a shared bin with the hairdresser next door.
Ms Neilson said: "You don't see litter blowing round our shops, they are treating us like criminals."
Wallasey Conservative councillor Paul Hayes said businesses he spoke to disposed of waste responsibly and Kingdom "have behaved like bailiffs".
Labour councillor Anita Leech, Wirral's cabinet member for environment, said: "Today I have directed that the current enforcement campaign on trade waste is suspended so we can review the approach and consider any appeals.
"This process was always intended to tackle a real problem of trade waste that is being illegally, and sometimes dangerously, placed into domestic refuse - which means council taxpayers subsidising businesses."
Kingdom told the BBC it was following council instructions.
Wirral Council figures show businesses were fined £31,200 in January for either failure to produce waste transfer information or receiving a duty of care notice for business waste.