London Undergound Ltd summoned to Court
…to face an application for a Litter Abatement Order over littered roadside embankments
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This is Victoria Road in Ruislip Manor, London just opposite the entrance to the tube station. The land under the large advertising hoarding belongs to London Underground Ltd who are the statutory undertaker responsible for ensuring it is kept clear of litter and refuse. There is a similar piece of land on the far side of the bridge. Both were invariably blighted by litter.
On 6th June 2011 I made a complaint via the Transport for London (TfL) web site. On 5th August the condition of the land was still dire and I sent a Warning Notice to London Underground Ltd (LUL) giving them 5 days notice of my intention to make a complaint to the magistrates court for an order requiring them to clean the land.
No effective remedial action was taken by LUL and, on 15th August, I submitted my complaint to Uxbridge Magistrates Court. A summons was promptly issued by the court and a hearing was set for 10.00 am on Wednesday 31st August.
All of the documentation up to this point, including my complaint, and the summons can be seen by clicking this link.
On the 31st August the LUL team consisted of their in house solicitor and a barrister. The hearing was an informal one in front of one of the Clerks to the Court. I said the land was still defaced by litter and that I wished to pursue my complaint. LUL said that the land had been cleaned and produced a witness statement and photographs. We exchanged our respective documents and a date was set for a hearing in front of a District Judge on 1st November at 10.00 am. The documents I submitted can be seen here.
I then wrote to LUL saying that, if they cleaned the land to the required standard by the end of September and showed me that they had done so, I would withdraw my complaint. This offer was taken up and the land was cleaned, but only with my on-site intervention and at the last possible moment, at 5.30 pm on Friday 30th September.
I told LUL that I would withdraw my complaint and only seek my costs. Costs are awarded if the court finds that, at the time of the complaint, the land was defaced by litter, and that there were reasonable grounds for making it. LUL responded by saying my complaint was misconceived. I was therefore obliged to prepare and submit to the court a detailed dossier of evidence to demonstrate otherwise. I was aware that if I lost I might end up paying LUL’s costs which, if they continue to employ a barrister, could have run into tend of thousands of pounds!!
At the hearing on 1st November LUL were represented by the same barrister. The case was heard by a District Judge. Thankfully I was awarded costs and was able to breathe a great sigh of relief !
I had already written to Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London and the person ultimately responsible for LUL about this use of “legal scare tactics”. I want to ensure that the same approach is not used again when another citizen has the audacity to complain about litter and uses his or her legal rights under S91 of the Environmental Protection Act when remedial action is not taken.
I wrote to him again on 9th December 2011 asking him to progress a reply to my earlier e-mail, the non-payment of my costs and to investigate the false claim made by LUL that the court had “upheld its assertion that the company had complied with the Environmental Protection Act”.
9th December 2011