INNOCENT residents have been shocked, angered and upset to receive ‘personally threatening’ letters from the council which appear to accuse them of fly tipping.
The Darwen residents who received the letters say this is despite the fact they have kept their areas clean while they themselves have appealed to the council to crackdown on rubbish being dumped.
The letters address recipients by name and warn them that Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council will take legal action against them if they do not comply with waste management rules.
Christine Baggaley of Argyle Street said: “It’s really intimidating, really scary, it’s shocking, absolutely shocking.
“I showed my son and he was horrified, had my neighbour not rung me and said that she’d had one too I would have thought ‘what have I done, what have I done?'”
“Had they been addressed to generic street names that would have been one thing, but it was addressed by name to us specifically, my neighbour was in floods of tears!”
She added: “We’re the ones who wait for our bins, clean the bins and who clean the ginnel!”
Residents say they have been shocked by the ‘threatening’ tone of the letters
Mrs Baggaley’s neighbour said she had received a copy of the same letter and agreed that the tone was threatening and appeared to personally blame each recipient for fly-tipping in the area.
She said: “All the street have them, because until the neighbours came to see if I’d received the letter as well I’d spent the past three hours feeling heartbroken thinking ‘what have I done?'”
She added: “It’s a reference to the fly tipping that we’ve had to ring up about.
“We’ve tried to keep our communities clean and now we’re being victimised.”
The letters state that the council is undertaking a comprehensive review of waste at the recipient’s home and that “if you contravene any notice without reasonable excuse, you will be guilty of an offence and you could face an unlimited fine in the magistrates court.”
Another resident, an 80-year-old woman, said she found the letters to be “personally threatening.”
Son John Wilcock said: “Since receiving this letter my mother has been worried sick about it and it has affected her both emotionally and physically.
“She is a vulnerable 80 year old woman, living alone with no ability to contact anyone on the internet, no car to drive herself to a local council office to make enquiries and there is no telephone number provided for her to ask why she has been sent this letter.”
He added: “She has since discovered that everyone in the street got a personal letter and others have been really worried and upset by them too.
“I know a lady my mum talked to was really upset and it made her cry.
“She wanted to get in touch with someone and as she said, clear her name.
“She also said a young lad who was another neighbour of hers had been so upset by his letter he was put off going out with his friends because he felt so bad!”
The council has now apologised to those who were upset, but says the letters were indented to identify those responsible for fly tipping.
Head of environment Tony Watson said: “The Environmental Waste Crime team have issued a number of letters to the top 22 streets where fly-tipping reports are highest in the borough and we have to return regularly to try and identify the culprits and remove the fly-tipping.
“As we do not know at present who is dumping the rubbish, the letters have gone out to all landlords and any owner occupiers in the areas, so we apologise for any upset caused to those who manage their waste and recycling correctly.
“The wording used forms part of the legal process in dealing with any resultant cases we may progress for prosecution, following further investigation into the fly-tipping and poor waste management and the use of CCTV to identify offenders.”