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Public ‘misled’ over charity donations at recycling centre which turned up in second hand shop

Waste authority says signs are being changed at Regis Road site

12 October, 2017 — By William McLennan

A RECYCLING centre in Kentish Town claimed that salvageable items of furniture and bric-à-brac were being donated to charity when they were actually being taken away and sold in a second-hand shop on the outskirts of London.

Members of the public visiting the Regis Road site had historically also been able to take items away, such as sports equipment and toys, which had been left there by people clearing out their homes. In recent years, this was stopped on the basis that these reusable items had been “donated for reuse by charity”.

However, enquiries by one user, Elena Joseph, have revealed that the items were being transported to a second-hand shop in Chingford and being sold, with any profits ploughed back into the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), which manages the site on behalf of Camden Council. Ms Joseph said: “It’s grossly misleading. If I went to Kentish Town tube station now and said I was collecting for charity when I’m not, I could go to prison. I want them to answer why they said it was for charity and who made that decision.”

The NLWA said the signs were being changed and that the shop’s annual profit of £5,000 was “reinvested into the Authority’s wider waste prevention work”. Ms Joseph said: “If you go to Regis Road and ask people, they will tell you they think it’s all going to charity. Nobody will know that it’s taken to a shop in Chingford and then, after they’ve paid their rents and rates and whatever else, they have £5,000 left that goes back into the company.”

Treasure hunters had always been able to take discarded items home until signs went up announcing a new policy that “residents are not permitted to remove or sort through any items donated for reuse by charity”. Prized items are sold at a shop called Second Time around in Kings Road, Chingford, which was opened by Linda Barker, a star of the early-2000s BBC show Changing Rooms. A spokeswoman for the NLWA said they were “currently updating the signage at seven reuse and recycling centres across north London”.

The spokeswoman added: “The sign in question at the Regis Road site is an old sign with masked out text that had become partially visible due to rain. The relevant text has been re-covered, and a new sign ordered.” She said that last year the shop “achieved the re-use of 58 tonnes of materials that would otherwise have been recycled or disposed, and achieved a trading profit of a little under £5,000”.

The NLWA is made up of seven councils – Camden, Barnet, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest – and is responsible for disposing of 850,000 tonnes of waste each year. Its spokeswoman added: “This trading profit will be reinvested into the Authority’s wider waste prevention work which currently diverts on average 10,000 tonnes of waste from recycling and disposal every year.”

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