Pie bosses hit with huge fine

A FAMOUS pie firm has been ordered to fork out more than £11,000 after it failed to comply with recycling obligations.

Pooles of Wigan bosses pleaded guilty to six charges before Wigan magistrates yesterday after they admitted operating without an official Environment Agency waste permit.

In a private prosecution brought by the agency, it was also revealed that the well-known firm, which has about 50 employees, is currently operating at a loss of £241,000.

The court heard how companies of a significant size must register with the body to ensure that packaging used in their products is disposed of responsibly.

They can either register directly or sign up to an agency-endorsed compliance scheme.

However, Pooles, which prior to 2007 operated under the JJB banner but is now based in Kilshaw Street, Pemberton, failed to do so.

Environment Agency investigators first contacted the company to verify whether Pooles fell under their regulations.

They described how the information, which was provided “promptly” by Pooles chiefs, proved that they did.

Pooles registered with a compliance scheme for the year 2009.

When interviewed under caution, a company representative confirmed that Pooles would have handled at least 50 tonnes of packaging a year since 2002 but claimed that they thought JJB had fulfilled recycling obligations on their behalf.

The Pooles representative added that they would never have purposefully avoided the waste obligations. Environment Agency investigators estimated that Pooles had avoided paying more than £9,000 in costs and registration fees between 2004-08.

In mitigation, Pooles’ defence solicitor told how company bosses mistakenly believed they were adhering to regulations by regularly sending their recycling to JJB.

He admitted that “an administrative oversight” had led to the legislation being overlooked and told of Pooles’ bosses “disappointment and shock” at the breach.

Magistrates ordered Pooles bosses to pay £6,000 in fines – £1,000 for each offence – as well as £3,865 compensation, £1,555 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Justices gave company bosses 28 days to pay back the £11,431 balance in full.