Hard pressed local reuse charity fined for bin use mistake 

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Hard pressed local reuse charity, Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project (aka The Wood Store), has been fined for mistaken use of communal bin by a disabled volunteer. 

The Wood Store, a registered charity which collects timber for reuse and offers disadvantaged volunteers training opportunities, has been fined £300 for misuse of a communal street bin. The charity, which takes pride in minimising waste, has a contract with Brighton & Hove City Council to use communal bins for its commercial waste. The Wood Store pays for special bin bags allowing it to deposit waste in the nearby street bin – avoiding the need to employ a private contractor. 

Recently two Wood Store volunteers, one who has learning difficulties, the other very new to our workshop, were asked to move waste contained in ordinary sacks to a different location within the premises, but misunderstood and took the bags out to the street bin. Council officers were there and saw the waste being deposited and issued a fixed penalty notice. Staff tried to explain that we always put the waste in the official bags before putting it in the communal bin and this was an unfortunate mistake that won’t happen again. 

Chief Executive of the Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project (aka The Wood Store), Pete West, appealed the fine by explaining what had happened, but the Council has nevertheless decided to uphold the penalty. 

Pete says, “I’m very conscious of the need for the Council to properly manage use of the communal bins and appreciate that technically we have committed an offence, but this was an honest mistake made by a volunteer with learning disabilities who misunderstood what to do. We run on a shoestring and are crowdfunding to save the organisation and really can’t afford this insensitive fine, which will only serve to reduce the support we can give to disadvantaged people.” 

The Wood Store, which since its foundation in 1998 has been leading the way for a circular economy, is feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis upon its sales of reusable timber and its volunteers-made reclaimed timber furniture. The Wood Store lease their current

Brighton premises on Edward Street from the Council at a peppercorn rent – which reflects the Council’s commitment to the work of the charity. However, Oakley House is now destined to be redeveloped for housing and the charity needs a new home and to be able to afford the cost of moving, so it is running a ‘Save the Wood Store’ crowdfunder for cash donations and also seeking corporate sponsorship. 

Link: Save The Wood Store – a Community crowdfunding project in Brighton 

Pete added, “We are crowdfunding for £10,000 as a start to what we need to face a move in the coming months. The pandemic and then the cost of living crisis have wiped out our reserves, and the ‘meanwhile’ premises opportunities have now all been redeveloped. So, our next move will be to pay a market rent or scrape together the funds to buy a building. The crowdfunder will help pump-prime the growth in turnover we need to afford this. It’s that or we will have to face the fact, like so many other charities in the city, that we will go under. We don’t want the city to lose the experienced role we play in helping reduce carbon footprints and providing life-changing opportunities to trainees.” 

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