Choir covers 'appalling' £400 fly-tipping fine for child's desk

Songworks, a Crouch End community choir, perform at the festival. Picture: Siorna Ashby

Denise Dobson of Songworks choir was penalised by Haringey Council - Credit: Archant

A choir has chipped in to cover a £400 fly-tipping fine issued to a Crouch End parent for leaving their child’s desk outside their home.

Denise Dobson said she was “appalled” by the punishment dished out by Haringey Council for putting out a three-foot desk for a passer-by to take for free.

The director of Songworks choir, a 100-strong group from N8, saw the act as “community recycling” – but Haringey ruled it as fly-tipping.  

“Fly-tippers are not people like me who are putting perfectly good furniture out on the street for my neighbours to pick up for free,” Denise told the Ham&High.  

“At a time when money is tight for a lot of people frankly, picking up furniture on the street really helps people out.” 

Denise Dobson, director of Songworks choir

Denise Dobson, director of Songworks choir - Credit: Denise Dobson

The wall-mounted folding desk was put out on May 19, and subsequently taken by a passer-by, before the £400 fine was confirmed more than a month later. An appeal to Haringey was rejected.  

Denise received the penalty just prior to an online choir session. After hearing the news, two days later her group had organised a whip round for £400. 

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“I’m so deeply grateful, it’s a perfect antidote,” Denise said. 

“It’s like the kindness has outweighed the injustice. And kindness has won.” 

The money and a card from Songworks choir covering the fine

The money and a card from Songworks choir covering the fine - Credit: Denise Dobson

Haringey Council said that while it understood the choir director wanted to leave the desk for a neighbour, “leaving broken furniture in the street can be dangerous and cause a nuisance for the local area”.  

“A clean and tidy borough is a priority for our residents, and they want us to take enforcement action to ensure this,” A Haringey spokesperson said.  

“For residents who would like to donate items, we would ask they take them to a charity, reuse and recycling centre or try their neighbours directly.  

“Residents can also make use of the council’s bulky waste collection if they have large items they don’t need anymore.”

Songworks Community Choir.

The Songworks choir in performance - Credit: Archant

In 2019 Denise was given an award by Haringey Council as part of International Women’s Day to recognise her work in the community.

Fly-tipping is illegal dumping of liquid or solid waste on land or in water, often discarded to avoid disposal costs.