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North London community choir leader slapped with £400 Council fine after recycling effort branded ‘fly-tipping’

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A community choir leader from Crouch End, who was hit with a hefty fine for fly tipping after she left a child’s desk outside her home for recycling, has praised her local community after they rallied to support her.

Denise Dobson, 54, was fined a whopping £400 by Haringey council after leaving a small desk which had belonged to her daughter outside her house with a note attached saying ‘please take’ with the intention of it being recycled.

A few weeks later, she says she was shocked to receive a letter from Haringey Council stating that a fly tipping offence had been committed.

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Ms Dobson, who has lived in Crouch End for 20 years, appealed the notice, explaining she had left the desk outside of her own property, in good faith for someone to re-use it.

Denise leads the Songworks Choir in Crouch End

“People in the local community leave things outside all the time to be recycled and shared, it’s a community initiative, I thought I was doing a good thing,” she told us.

“Fly tipping is bags of rubble, junk, house clearances that gets left in alleyways by builders, not by residents outside their own homes.”

The desk, which Ms Dobson says was in usable condition, was left outside with a bag of screws.

Haringey upheld the fine and notified her of fly tipping, and a picture was taken as evidence of the item which was allegedly causing an obstruction on the pavement.

Miss Dobson, who leads the Songworks Choir in Crouch End, is well known in the local community and the choir regularly performs at the Crouch End Festival and fundraises for charity.

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“I do a lot of work in the local community with the choir, serving the community in Crouch End, this feels like an attack on our community values,“ she explained.

“The council says they want to waste less and we should recycle more and this just feels like you’re being punished for doing a positive thing.”

She said receiving the fine ‘felt like a slap in the face’

The Songworks choir rallied together with a collection to raise money to help pay the fine for Ms Dobson, whose income and work had been affected during the pandemic

A local Lib Dem councillor for Haringey Liz Morris also made a representation on her behalf to appeal the fine.

The Songworks Choir organised a collection to help with the fine

The Songworks Choir organised a collection to help with the fine

On receiving the collection Ms Dobson shared a post on Facebook with the picture of cash and a handwritten card posted to her by choir members.

Speaking of the good will gesture she said: “Kindness has won, I’m blown away, it’s such a great community spirit, the type of community I want to be part of.”

Fiona Screen, a long term member of the Songworks Choir, said: “People were quite angry, because it felt disproportionate, also trying to stop people doing an environmentally responsible thing; the council should be encouraging that not clamping down on it.

“Denise does so much, she’s kept the choir together since March last year, she’s brilliant at doing that; it just felt like a kick in the teeth for her.

“We’ve got a history of supporting all our members like that, we’re just glad we were able to help.”

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A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “Whilst we completely understand that the resident wanted to leave the item for a passer-by to pick up, leaving broken furniture in the street can be dangerous and cause a nuisance for the local area.

“For residents who would like to donate items, we would ask they take them to a charity, reuse and recycling centre or try their neighbours directly. Residents can also make use of the council’s bulky waste collection if they have large items they don’t need anymore.”

“A clean and tidy borough is a priority for our residents, and they want us to take enforcement action to ensure this.”

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/north-london-news/north-london-community-choir-leader-21239204