The Director of Environment and Adult Social Care submitted a report seeking approval for a revised abandoned shopping trolley scheme in Middlesbrough as required by guidance issued in connection with the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
In September 2006, the Executive determined to introduce a scheme to charge the owners of abandoned shopping and luggage trolleys for their collection, storage and return or disposal. New provisions made available by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 amended schedule 4 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which previously allowed Local Authorities to carry out this function but did not include charging arrangements. The scheme came into force on 27 December 2006. Prior to this date the service had been carried out free of charge to the trolley owners.
Under the provisions of schedule 4 the Local Authority may seize any shopping or luggage trolley found in the open air that appears to have been abandoned. Car parks with trolley parking, and land owned by transport undertakers, shops, supermarkets and other trolley providers was excluded from the 'open air definition. Trolleys on land in the public domain could be lifted instantly and there were powers to serve a notice on the owners of private land prior to taking action. A trolley seized in that way must be kept for 6 weeks to allow the owner to come forward. We were also required to inform the person who appeared to be the owner that we had seized it. The Council must return a trolley to any owners claiming a trolley on payment of the fee. Any trolleys unclaimed after the six-week period could be sold or disposed of and the person who appeared to be the owner recharged for our costs.
The provisions of the scheme required Local Authorities to work out their costs in dealing with abandoned trolleys, and to make a standard charge based on the average cost per trolley. When the scheme was originally introduced in 2006 the charges were set at £110 per trolley if claimed, and £130 if a trolley was unclaimed to accommodate disposal costs. This was reviewed and the new charge proposed in the consultation is £66 plus vat, with annual adjustments for inflation, regardless of the whether a trolley is returned or disposed of by the Council. A breakdown of how the new charge had been derived ws given in Appendix 1 of the report.
Local Authorities were required to consult on the operation of the scheme 'from time to time' and carry out a full review at least every five years. In January, 2012 a consultation was carried out with those affected by the scheme including owners of shopping and luggage trolleys, local ward councillors, land owners, the Chamber of Commerce, Community Councils, the Environment Agency and the Police. A copy of the consultation letter was given in appendix 2 of the report, and a summary of the responses received at Appendix 3 of the report.
More details on the consultation can be found within the report.
The report outlined that there were three options:
Option 1 - Do Nothing, this option was not recommended as the rules surrounding trolley schemes do not allow us to make a profit from its operation. If we chose this option we could face and lose a legal challenge.
Option 2 - Amend the Charge made per Trolley, this option would allow us to comply with the law relating to trolley costs and the recommended charge was the one that we consulted on - £66 per trolley plus VAT for trolleys, with annual adjustments for inflation, whether they were collected by the provider or disposed of by the Council.
Option 3 - Amend the Charge as in Option 2 and Offer a Service Level Agreement to Trolley Providers
This was the recommended option as it met the charging requirements in the legislation as well as encouraging trolley providers to become more responsible and to enter into an agreement with the Council.
During the meeting Cllr N Walker outlined that the Coulby Newham Ward Councillor were involved in the talks with Tesco to bring in the trolley locking mechanism.
To approve option three of this report namely to reduce the charge per trolley impounded to £66 plus vat, with annual adjustments for inflation, and offer trolley providers the opportunity to enter into a service level agreement with the Council.
This decison was suported by the following reason:
This was the recommended option as it met the charging requirements contained in legislation as well as encouraging trolley providers to become more responsible.