British Earl Ordered to Take Out the Trash

British Earl Ordered to Take Out the Trash

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

When I lived in Indianapolis, every few days I would often find a couple pieces of trash pitched in my yard by passing motorists. I cleaned them up, and would silently curse the mouth-breathing jerkwads who treated the city streets as their own private trash can. (I also have a few choice words for people who pitch their still-lit cigarette butts out their car window, but that's for another, less family-friendly column.)

I often wished I could find whoever dropped the offending garbage, so I could mail it back to them. Postage due, of course.

But that's nothing compared to what the Earl of Iveagh, Arthur Edward Rory Guinness (yes, THAT Guinness), found on his property in Suffolk, England almost a decade ago: 1 million tires and 1,000 tons of shredded rubber.

The earl and his estate managers have spent all this time clearing away two-thirds of the tires, but now the local council is whining that this isn't good enough, so they're fining him £400,000 ($570,123) to fix a problem someone else caused. A problem he's already paying to solve. To make matters worse, the council idiots are even threatening to prosecute him.

The problem arises from the fact that although the tires were dumped by Timothy Williams a slimy, mouth-breathing businessman, British law says the land owner is responsible for cleaning up the mess.

British law also prevents the earl from dangling said businessman from the Millennial Ferris Wheel by his ankles. However, Williams was thrown in jail for two months in 2002 for several cases of tire dumping, although it wasn't clear whether that included the tires on the Earl's lands.

The earl's estate managers have turned two-thirds of the tires into a noise barrier near Royal Air Force base Lakenheath. The other tires have been turned into 3,300 bales big enough to cover a soccer field. The bales can be seen on Google Earth.

But the earl and his managers are not moving fast enough or spending enough of his own money to suit the St. Edmundsbury Council, so they've begun legal proceedings because the earl has violated an enforcement order they issued in 2004.

That's right. Some mouth-breathing jerkwad dumps a million tires on your property, and your city council ORDERS you to clean them up at your own expense, which you were already doing, and then starts legal proceedings because you're not doing it fast enough to suit them.

They remind me of a neighborhood association I once lived in where the association president had Nazi-like tendencies. He often sent nasty complaint letters to residents, nitpicking every little detail that didn't meet his approval. He was finally unseated when he tried to invade Russia.

(I once received a loud phone call from him after I sent a letter asking if I could build a weatherproof dome over my house so I could finish some of the cleanup he "demanded" I make. He angrily denied my dome request, of course.)

It's the council's ungrateful, short-sighted bureaucratic thinking that makes me glad I live in a country where you can sue the bejeezus out of anyone for being that annoying. Although if it wasn't for British bureaucrats, I would have run out of material 12 years ago.

"There are still 368,000 tyres left on the site and the original notice we issued stated that they all had to be removed by October 2006," a council spokesman whined to the London Daily Telegraph.

Unfortunately for the earl, British law prohibits hanging council members from Big Ben.

Jim Rudderham, the estate manager, told the Daily Telegraph they had been working hard to remove the remaining tires and had all the permits to be able to bale them and remove them.

"There were originally more than a million of them and it is an extremely time-consuming and expensive operation," said Rudderham. "We don't know yet what the final bill will be, but it will be well in excess of a quarter of a million pounds. ($354,359)."

"Like any form of fly-tipping (illegal dumping), it is the responsibility of the landowners to clear the mess up and unfortunately there is little chance of getting the company that originally dumped them to pay up," he said.

I don't know what kind of arcane British law makes it the land owner's financial and legal responsibility to clean up the mess of mouth-breathing jerkwads, but it's got to be one of the stupidest laws I've heard of.

Maybe they should ask for a weather-proof dome to allow them to work in bad weather. I've got some detailed plans around here somewhere.

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