Nottingham woman talks about how a thriving gift economy network gets damaged by PCSO/CPO's attempts to clean up the neighbourhood.

I’ve lived around the area of Forest Fields, Nottingham for about six years now. I quickly found out what people do when they don’t want their furniture, video machines, or any goods that are still functional, you leave it out on the street and allow other people to pick it up. I’ve been doing this for a long time, if I don’t need something like a chair I will put it outside usually within a couple of hours people will pick it up. People always stack it neatly against the walls so that no one stumbles over it.

What we did in early December, we had the bottom of a bed which we couldn’t get up the stairs, so therefore we left it out on the street. Within a couple of hours there was a knock on the door, before we opened the door there was a note put through saying we couldn’t do that.

We opened the door and there were two Community Officers saying we had to put the bed inside, it wasn’t allowed, and that we would be fined I think £100 if we didn’t do so. They said there is a phone number on a card and you can ring that if you are not happy with the decision. So we had to take the bed back in. That’s never happened before the Community Officers got here. We have always been able to leave things out. If it’s a big item and no one picks it up in the day you take it back in overnight and put it back out in the morning. But usually things are gone within twenty four hours at the most.

I suppose the warning that you will get a hefty fine, is I think, enough for a lot of people to take things back in. I still see a lot of things out on the streets even now, people are adamant, they still think its a good idea. It would be nice if the Community Officers could accept, and say thats OK as long as it’s stacked neatly against the wall. But they seem to be on a mission to clean the streets up, even though this is a system that works really well. I know loads of people who pick up a lot of furniture that way rather than having to buy new things. There seems to be an ideology that we might as well reuse rather than consume.

I’ve not had any kind of runnings, or any help from them in anyway. I have only been told I will get fined for doing something that I have done for a long time.

I would imagine older people might appreciate them walking about on the street and I’ve been told that some of them are very passionate about what they are doing and see themselves as a helping link between the neighbourhood and the police. But I haven’t actually experienced that myself. You know they should talk to the neighbourhood and say is this something you do, and ask is this something you find valuable to you? I’d think they’d find most people would say the free-cycle system is a really good idea and it works really well. Maybe they should not go so by-the-book on everything that they do?

We live in a consumer society and most people seem to think you should throw things out on the landfill rather than recycle it. It seems to be quite a unique thing around here and in Radford and Lenton. It seems to be they follow the book and go, ‘oh you can’t do that, that’s illegal’. They are ruining a system that works really well. They probably do good things as well but it seems to me that there is no communication if they should be fining us for doing this rather than understanding why we are doing it.