Housewife's 15-year rubbish row

IT'S 15 years since the binmen called on Pateley Bridge housewife Margaret Cale because of a rumpus over a load of old rubbish in Nidderdale.

And as the rubbish row rumbles on, without any sign of a a breakthrough, years of rufuse just keep piling up.

Mrs Cale says she will continue to dump household rubbish on her land until the council provides a doorstep service offered to other households.

The rubbish heap is just yards from the family's former farmhouse alongside a public footpath.

Her dispute blew up with Harrogate Borough Council when the poll tax was introduced in 1990, inflating her council tax bill to 1,400 a year.

Before the tax was introduced the family saved up rubbish and for 13 years made a 50-mile round trip from their home to Stonefall Amenity Tip in Harrogate to dump their plastic bags.

"But when the poll tax came in we decided that we were paying for a service we didn't get and that the council should collect our rubbish from outside our home – just like they do for other taxpayers. We are still paying for a doorstep service we don't get," said Mrs Cale.

Mrs Cale said the family were still not getting a service to which they were entitled, though the council has said it will only collect rubbish from the main road which is less than half a mile away from the house.

The council said its large refuse vehicles had difficulty negotiating the narrow farm track but Mrs Cale claims the council now has a smaller vehicle which is being used for collections from nursing homes and properties at the end of farm tracks in Nidderdale.

Several years ago Mrs Cale took her complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, but her case was dismissed.

Simon Johnson, head of environment for Harroate Borough Council, said the Ombudsman had concluded the council had come to a reasoned decision which accorded with their policy and the law.

The Cales regularly treat the tip with poison to curb rats in the rotting heap which stretches for 15ft and is about 5ft high. Mrs Cale says the family are users of a new recycling facility near Lofthouse, making a three-mile round trip to leave their newspapers and bottles. But tins and other household waste go on their self-made tip.

The council has offered to remove the rubbish if they will leave future refuse bagged up at the end of their farm track. But this has been refused.

Mr Johnson said the smaller vehicle was already fully employed.

He said it was "perfectly proper" for the council to collect from a lane end when homes were not easily accessible.

"We have said all along that we are always happy to discuss with Mr and Mrs Cale any issue they want to raise," he added.