The Barnsley Blind and Partially Sighted Association, based on Regent Street South, is already in danger of folding because of a lack of funding.
But chairman Carol Green said she has been told by a member of staff at Barnsley Council’s waste management department that its rubbish is classed as ‘commercial waste’ and it faces a fine unless it can prove it has a contract with a waste disposal firm.
Carol said members have taken rubbish home for the last few years because the association cannot afford to pay to have its bin emptied. It is then recycled. They even collect rubbish which is thrown into its premises which includes bottles and needles and once had a bloodied knife left in its letter box.
In addition, Carol said the association, which is open Monday to Thursday 10am to 2pm, doesn’t produce enough waste to warrant paying for a bin to be emptied.
The debacle has come about after a new volunteer left a couple of black sacks next to the public bin in Mandela Gardens after the association had thrown a birthday party for a blind woman. This is not normal practice for the association, and it was the first time it had done this.
Carol, 69, who is registered blind, then picked up an answering machine message from someone in waste management saying the association would be fined unless it was moved within 24 hours. She immediately rang up and explained it was a mistake. She was told the association had been identified by some of the contents, which Carol said was a plastic table cloth which said words to the effect of ‘happy birthday from your friends at Barnsley Blind Association’.
Carol said she has since been told that unless she can prove the association has a contract with a firm to collect its rubbish, it will be fined for fly-tipping. An inspector is also being sent to inspect the offices.
She said: “The woman told me what we are doing is illegal and that she is going to report it and get an inspector to come and look in our offices and see how we are disposing of our waste. She said we could be fined.
“I told her to do it, I’m not going to stop. Why should we?
“I’m so angry. We have 32 volunteers doing so much to keep this organisation afloat and everything we can save money on, that’s what we’ve been doing.
“It would cost £300 for the council to empty our wheelie bin. That could go towards one month’s rent which is £500.
“We’re trying to improve income as much as we can. That’s one way we are trying to do that, taking waste home. I can’t understand what is wrong with that.
“She said we will be fined for fly-tipping if we can’t provide them with a bill to say we have a contract with a firm. I said we definitely weren’t going to do that because we don’t have that much rubbish.”
Carol said she is now awaiting the visit by an inspector, but it is not yet known when this will be.