Care Questions : Article 30Care Questions : Article 30

Your Care Questions Answered by Angela Gifford - ARTICLE No.30

"I live alone on the edge of a small village and lately people have been dumping rubbish, bin bags and items of furniture in a nearby copse. I do not feel I can go out and stop them but who do I report this matter to and will anything be done?"

Answer : Dumping items such as you mentioned is against the law and there is a campaign by The Environment Agency to prosecute for every offence. The fine for being proved to have dumped waste illegally can be up to £50,000.00 or up to 12 months in prison if dealt with in a Magistrates Court. If dealt with in the Crown Court the fine can be unlimited and there is the possibility of up to five years in prison.

Next time you observe illegal dumping of waste make a note of the time and date you saw the dumping take place, if you can, note down the vehicle type, e.g. lorry, van. car, the registration number and colour of the vehicle. If you can, discreetly take a photo or a video. However, do not approach the people concerned. Contact your local District Council immediately or call the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 807060.

"I live in a rented property and the cost of my electricity is included in my rent. Over the past year my rent has increased several times and when I have queried this, I have been told it is because fuel prices keep going up. How can I find out if I am being overcharged?"

Answer : There is a leaflet published titled Maximum Resale Price which includes information on the amount a landlord can charge for gas and electricity for tenants who are domestic customers. If you contact Energywatch on 0845 906 0708 you can ask for the leaflet and discuss your situation with them. If you have a recent bill have this by you when you speak to them.

"Recently retired, living alone and fit and healthy I would like to get involved in some voluntary work for elderly people. Having a car I would like to use this and myself in a social way if this is possible. Any ideas?"

Answer : Contact the Elderly is a charity that may be of interest to you. One of their aims is help older people find new friends. Potential volunteers can attend one of their social "tea-parties" to see what the charity is all about and how it works. They are especially pleased to have volunteers who have a car as this facilitates collecting an elderly person to take them out to have tea where they can meet other people.

The charity also looks for people who can host a tea party perhaps once or twice a year for about two and a half hours. Quite simply the charity helps older people to find friends and are looking for volunteers to help achieve this. The charity has approximately 340 branches nationwide and for further information call them on their free phone number 0800 716543.

"I have recently had some personal business handled by a solicitor and I have now received the bill. It is far higher than I was lead to believe and there isn't a breakdown of the costs on the invoice. Calls to her office have not proved of much help as she is currently on sick leave. What should I do?"

Answer : Write to the firm of solicitors and asked for a detailed account and ask for a written reply. If after you have received the details you are still not satisfied then refer the matter to the partner in the firm who is responsible for complaints.

If this does resolve the problem you can ask your solicitor to apply to the Law Society for a Remuneration Certificate. This is a free service, which will enable you to have your bill checked. (This route only applies to work that does not involve court proceedings). For further details including timing and payment of part of the bill telephone The Remuneration Certificate Department of The Law Society on their enquiry line 01926 431435.

"Are there any charities who like knitted articles donated to them?"

Answer : One who does is the Community Service Volunteers who are currently running a campaign to knit teddies, which can be sent to children in distress. They also require knitted garments, which can be given to children both locally and abroad.

Here is their home page; and here's the link which currently displays a teddy knitting pattern: and how to find the local group in your area.

Oxfam no longer accept knitted garments but they are happy to receive blankets, which have been made up of knitted squares as they then sell these at various events around the country to raise money for the charity.