A former X Factor contestant is warning others not to fall foul of waste removal rules after she was landed with a fine when the scrap gang she paid to clear her yard dumped it back at her gate.
Sharna Bowman and partner Stephen Elms, who got engaged in front of the judges during their appearance on the ITV show in 2016, were left with glass, wood and other items to clear when they moved into a property in Hendon.
The council need to work alongside the people, not get their back up.Sharna Bowman
When a man offered to take it all away along with a broken washing machine, Sharna struck a deal for £40.
But the 27-year-old - who performs with 31-year-old Stephen as He Knows She Knows - was woken by a neighbour the next day after a gate was blocked by the same waste dumped on the street.
Sunderland City Council then issued her with a £95 Fixed Penalty Notice for flytipping - rising to £114 with VAT.
Sharna says people she has since asked also know nothing of the fines or responsibility of a householder to check a firm as a waste carrier licence.
She says more should be done to tell people about the rules and penalties.
There is no section on its website setting out what householders should check arranging waste to be removed or the penalties they could face if they fall foul of the law, besides a news item detailing fines given to flytippers.
The Echo launched its Clean Streets campaign to encourage Sunderland to be cleaner and greener.
“I feel as if I’m the victim by the fact a crime could be recorded,” she said.
“The waste man came along and we negotiated a price, he said £50 and I said £40, and he said yes, and was really chatty and before I knew it, it was all clear.
“Then at 5am, all the rubbish was back at my door in the back lane, every single thing and the waste man is nowhere to be seen.
“I’ve asked lots of people whether they knew anything about this rule and 100% no one had a clue.
“I feel as if it’s something that needs to be addressed.
“I don’t feel as if I should have to pay it.
“The council need to work alongside the people, not get their back up.
“They could get young ones involved to help spread the message and I would be willing to help.”
Sharna added she was aware she would have needed a waste carrier licence should she have used her own van to clear the rubbish, but not that she would have to check that a collector had the right permit.
A spokesman for the council said: “Householders have a legal ‘duty of care’ to make sure their waste is disposed of lawfully.
“Anyone arranging for a private waste collection needs to check the collector has a valid waste carrier’s licence.
“If a collector dumps the waste then householders can, in law, be held responsible.”