A man living in France has been left puzzled after an East London Council handed him fly-tipping fines totalling £550 – despite not being in the country at the time.

Ben Cormack, who moved to Bordeaux to live with his girlfriend earlier this year, has been accused by Newham Council of chucking rubbish in the street on two separate occasions in October 2022. He says is “physically impossible”.

He happened to come across the “completely bonkers” fines while recently visiting his home in East London, which he still owns, to pick up some stuff to take back to France with him.

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Ben told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I have to pop to the UK every now and again, partly because I’ve been moving stuff and my family lives there.

"I just got these letters saying, ‘we’re fining you for fly-tipping’. It’s astonishing. It would have been physically impossible for me to be anywhere close to Newham when these offences occurred.”

Despite proving he was not in the country from October 10 to October 27 through his flight tickets, ferry stamps and visa - all seen by the LDRS, Ben says the council does not believe him.

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He said: “I understand fly-tipping is a big problem in Newham but there’s rubbish on every street corner. I think it’s important to get that problem sorted. But, on the other hand, I wasn’t in the country and there’s absolutely no way it could possibly be me.

“I won’t lie to you, it’s quite frightening. I’m hoping I can do something about it, it’s just an awful situation and they’re just not listening to me. It’s an extortionate amount of money.”

During the first incident, an officer allegedly saw Ben chucking a cardboard box on the floor in Plaistow and leaving it there on October 20. A second incident allegedly occurred on October 27, after an officer saw Ben “unlawfully” chucking more cardboard boxes on the floor in Stratford.

A letter seen by the LDRS shows the fines were sent to Ben on November 9. He has been ordered to pay a total of £550 as he has passed the 10-day window to pay a reduced fine.

Failing to comply could see Ben taken to court to face criminal charges.

However, Ben says he will not pay the fines and will fight the council to the bitter end, though he has some extra cash stored away if he ultimately has to pay up.

He said: “It’s sort of okay for me because I have a good support network and I have a little bit of money tucked away in case of emergency. So if the worst comes to the worst I can deal with this, but a lot of people aren’t in a fortunate position.

“We’re going through a cost of living crisis – a lot of people in East London are in poverty.”

The situation has left Ben “very angry” and has slammed the council for being “hugely unethical”.

A spokesperson for Kingdom L A Support Ltd, which is contracted to Newham Council, said “As these are both ongoing cases, we would not be able to comment at this time.”

A Newham Council spokesperson said: “With just under 35,000 fly tip incidents reported in 2021, which cost over £1 million to clean up, we are committed to tracking down those who dump rubbish on Newham’s streets

“Earlier this year, the council appointed Kingdom Local Authority Support to tackle the problem of litter on Newham’s streets. The contractor is adding capacity to the council’s internal team, providing further visible enforcement presence on Newham’s streets.

“Residents have made it clear to the council that what they want to see is a cleaner, smarter borough. Newham Council has committed to spend £40 million over the next 4 years to keep streets and neighbourhoods clean and cut reported fly-tipping by 50%.”

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