Birmingham & Black Country

Ex-MP John Hemming facing £30,000 legal bill in waste row

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming said Birmingham City Council was wrong to charge for garden waste collections.
Image caption Former Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming was refused permission to take the case to the Court of Appeal

A former MP who took his local council to court over dumped waste says he is facing a £30,000 legal bill.

John Hemming has lost two court hearings in his dispute with Birmingham City Council over its decision to charge for green waste collections.

He said it led to people fly-tipping and the council had a statutory duty to clear green waste dumped on streets.

He outlined his legal costs as he tried to take the case to the Court of Appeal but was refused permission.

Lord Justice Beatson concluded that the former Yardley MP would not be able to establish that district judge Robert Zara, who made the original ruling at Birmingham Magistrates' Court in 2014, had made a mistake.

The council introduced a £35 annual fee for the collection of garden waste in February 2014, and was accused of sparking a rise in fly-tipping which residents complained about.

Image caption Residents complained about the dumped waste in 2014

Mr Hemming brought the case to court on the basis the council had a duty under the Environmental Protection Act to keep land under its control clean of litter.

He had hoped the court would issue a litter abatement order requiring the local authority to remove litter dumped in Yardley.

He said a council truck cleared rubbish the day before the final hearing.

But a district judge dismissed his claims, ordering him to pay the council's legal costs.

The council said at the time it had made "every effort" to deal with the issue of dumped green waste during the transitional first year of its new chargeable service.

Mr Hemming went on to lose a High Court appeal and said he now had legal bills totalling about £30,000 when council lawyers' bills were added to his.

"I took legal action and as a result the streets were cleared up," he told the London hearing.

"The courts, however, have decided that I lost."

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