Cardiff shops have been fined more than £1 million for abandoned shopping trolleys
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Shops in Cardiff have been fined more than £1 million for abandoned trolleys left scattered across the city.
Since 2012 Cardiff council has fined shops £75 for each abandoned shopping trolley found. Last year Aldi, Tesco and Asda were fined the most, with Tesco receiving 106 fines.
According to a freedom of information request, the council has issued 17,281 fines since its policy on abandoned shopping trolleys was brought in. That’s a total of £1,296,075.
This year has seen a huge increase in the number of fines. From April 1 and August 12, the council issued 2,854 fines, compared to 1,976 over the last financial year and 1,990 the year before.
When the council introduced its policy, the aim was to “remedy the problem of abandoned shopping trolleys” and “ensure retailers take greater ownership of their trolleys … and reduce the number of abandoned trolleys”.
But nine years later the number of fines is increasing, raising questions about whether the policy is working.
Earlier this summer a discount store in St Mellons criticised the fines as unfair. What! home and garden store warned if the council kept charging for trolleys, bosses could be forced to lay off a member of staff.
Waste enforcement officers working for the council, upon finding an abandoned trolley, take a photo of it and record the time, date and location. The council then issues the shop which owns the trolley a fixed penalty notice.
Most trolleys are then stored before the company responsible comes and collects them. Some however are left uncollected, destroyed and processed for scrap metal. According to the freedom of information request, about 150 trolleys each year are left uncollected.
Councillor Rhys Taylor, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “We’re all too used to seeing trolleys abandoned in our lanes, parks and rivers. It’s clear that the council needs to revisit this policy, given the increases in the number of abandoned trolleys.
“If this policy worked, we wouldn’t see £1 million in fines in recent years. This is just another example of how Labour-run Cardiff council is failing to get the basics right.”
A spokesperson for Cardiff council, said: “Nobody wants to see abandoned shopping trolleys dumped on public land, in our parks and rivers or on streets across the city.
“Businesses know that it is their responsibility to ensure that trolleys are not removed from their land. When they are left abandoned the council has to send staff to collect and return them to their owners or to scrap them.
“This takes up valuable officer time which could have been spent elsewhere on other environmental issues. Our officers’ time has a cost and the council looks to recoup that cost from the businesses responsible, rather than let the taxpayer pick up the bill.
”Supermarkets are well within their right to employ their own staff to recover their property, or to invest in an adequate system to ensure that their trolleys are not removed from their land. If all supermarkets did this then there wouldn’t be a need for the council to act as a recovery service on their behalf.”