Charity retailers call on councils to clear donations left outside shuttered shops

People are still leaving items in front of charity stores despite them being shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak

An Oxfam store closed because of the coronavirus pandemic (Photograph: Polly Thomas/Getty Images)
An Oxfam store closed because of the coronavirus pandemic (Photograph: Polly Thomas/Getty Images)

Charities are calling on local authorities to take responsibility for clearing up unwanted stock donations from outside charity shops during the lockdown.

Members of the public are still leaving donations outside closed charity shops or around already full donation banks.

These items then become damaged by the elements and pose a risk to environmental health and fire safety and could limit emergency service access to nearby buildings.

The Charity Retail Association, along with representatives from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Barnardo's, Oxfam and Scope have written to the Local Government Association, the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee and the Chartered Institute of Waste Management seeking reassurance that councils will deal with the issue.

The letter points out that charity retailers themselves are unable to remove the waste and donations from outside their shops, because most retail staff are furloughed and the activity would not count as an essential reason for travel.

“Charities are grateful for the council waste services which continue to operate and understand that they may be stretched at present,” the letter says.

“However, these services will be covering areas charity shops and banks are situated and are best placed to help avoid accumulation of fly-tipped waste.”

It calls for local authority street cleaning services to keep public areas such as high-street shop fronts clear of waste and to check at the back of charity shops and around donation banks, removing any waste deposited there, wherever possible.

It also calls for clear central advice on how charities can report fly-tipping issues of which they become aware.

“While most of our staff are furloughed we are not in a position to monitor our sites, but we are still getting contacted by the public or picking up incidents from CCTV footage,” the letter says.

“We would greatly appreciate local authorities acting on whatever information we get and providing proactive checks on sites which fly tippers are targeting.”

The letter warns that councils’ support will be needed both during the lockdown period and in the transition back to normality once restrictions are lifted.

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