The overzealous littering team at Trafford Council have issued a fixed penalty notice to the Refuse Collection Team that covers Sale and Altrincham after one of their authorised members of staff noticed that some litter fell from the back of the lorry as it headed up Washway Road to begin its round on Friday morning.
"We take littering very seriously," said Jeff Busybody, head of the Environment Department at Trafford Council. "There is no such thing as allowed littering. Every piece of litter from spat out gum to a carelessly discarded sofa is an offence to both the senses and the law. It will not be tolerated, even by, and especially, employees of Trafford Council."
Darren Blunt, who runs the Sale and Altrincham Refuse Collection Team, had a few choice words for his opposite number in the Environment Department, none of which can be printed until new letters are added to the English alphabet.
"I've heard about this prat before," he said, after working his way through Arabic, Kung! and Scandinavian epithets. "He once did an old granny for dropping some cotton off the back of her coat, and a two year-old girl for sneezing onto the pavement. He just doesn't get it. Personally, I think he's trying to justify his department. I mean, let's face it, the council has to save something like two million quid this year, and losing his entire department wouldn't be a bad start on that. What exactly do they do? My department empties bins. I'd like to see the councillors get reelected if they binned our department. If they binned his, I don't think anybody would notice."
The Fixed Penalty notice issued by the Environment Department has about as much legal weight as a soggy lettuce leaf abandoned by a now deceased tortoise during it's Kate Moss diet period. And Blunt knows it, and he knows that Busybody knows it too.
"Unless they can put the piece of litter in somebody's hand immediately prior to being chucked on the floor, they can't prosecute, even under the environment act of 2005 or the littering act of 1996. Completely irrelevant, a waste of a stamp sending it out, and if they ever did try and prosecute, the Crown Prosecution Service would laugh in their face. They've not got the litter, any evidence at all and I say to him, bring it on."
Busybody is aware of the legal situation regarding his department's issuing of fixed penalty notices. "Well, you've got to try. Haven't you? We raised a hundred thousand last year from people who didn't realise we don't have a leg to stand on. That nearly paid my salary that did, and shows what a valuable job we do."
Busybody may have been left with metaphorical egg on his face, but he has been left with physical egg, and other associated household waste, on his front lawn.
"It wasn't me," said Blunt, acting as innocent as a new born lamb. "I guess I'm not the only refuse collection manager he's pissed off."