Northumberland woman fined after failing to clear up rubbish-filled garden

Sarah Louise Richardson's garden on Alexandra Road
Sarah Louise Richardson's garden on Alexandra Road -Credit:Northumberland County Council

A Northumberland woman whose back garden became a dumping ground has become the fourth person to be prosecuted by the county council in a month for such an offence.

Sarah Louise Richardson appeared at Newcastle Magistrates' Court after a build-up of waste on her property became an eyesore for neighbours and presented a health hazard by attracting vermin that spread disease. During 2023, Northumberland County Council received reports of a build-up of household waste at Ms Richardson's address in Ashington.

An officer from the Public Protection Environmental Enforcement Team investigated and attempted to have the waste removed by the occupant. She was issued a Community Protection Warning requesting that the rubbish was removed in 22 days.

When this did not happen, a Community Protection Notice (CPN) was then issued requiring her to remove the rubbish within 25 days, but further checks once again revealed the rubbish remained. Failure to comply with a CPN is a criminal offence.

The waste was subsequently removed by the council and the costs were claimed as part of the prosecution. Richardson was found guilty of the offence of failing to comply with a Community Protection Notice on Friday, April 5.

She was ordered to pay a fine of £440, costs of £474.09 (including £206.98 works in default) and a victim surcharge of £176, making a total financial penalty of £1,090.09.

Northumberland county councillor Gordon Stewart, cabinet member for looking after our communities, said that the council was continuing to crackdown on environmental crime. He said: "Nobody wants to see their street turned into an eyesore or a dumping ground, which is why we won’t hesitate to take action against those committing these offences.

"We understand that people will from time to time need to store some rubbish in their gardens for a short period, but it is not acceptable for anyone to ignore the repeated advice of our Environmental Protection officers and allow their garden to become an unhygienic eyesore for months on end. I hope this prosecution sends a firm message to those who fail to take responsibility for their own waste and who ignore the effect their actions have on the quality of life of their neighbours."

Two residents living in Ashington and Newbiggin also received fines for failing to clear a mountain of mess from their gardens and ignoring legal notices. A man from Blyth was also fined after his vehicle was spotted on dashcam footage being used to fly-tip waste at Seghill.