Community rally around Clitheroe Odd-Job Boy Alfie to get 'tip' ban lifted
Council chiefs have been described as "mean spirited" and "underhand" after banning a much-loved teenage entrepreneur from the local tip.
And a petition set up by 18-year-old Alfie Cookson's friends and supporters calling for the ban to be removed has now been signed by 2, 724 people.
Alfie Cookson (18), affectionately known as The Odd-Job Boy of Clitheroe, is a bit of a local celebrity after Blackburn film maker Aaron Dunleavy made a film about him commissioned by BBC Three as part of its Real Life series.
Riding his bike and trailer, Alfie, who was diagnosed with ADHD and Tourettes when he was eight, and who has suffered with a stammer all his life, can regularly be seen helping local people with their odd jobs which can some times include taking items to Clitheroe's household waste recycling centre at the bottom of Henthorn Road.
However, a couple of months back, Alfie, who is the son of Joanne and Phillip Cookson, of Henthorn Road, was told by staff at the centre that this was no longer going to be possible.
Alfie explained how the centre's staff had been instructed by the "powers that be" not to let him take items there anymore.
"They're saying that I've got a trailer with two axles - it hasn't even got an axle on it or an engine - I'm the engine powering it!" Alfie said.
"I'm not making a massive amount of money and I'm doing it to help local folk out who cannot get out and about and get down to the tip, I'm just doing a simple job helping people who are elderly or who work late."
And Alfie added that he has been overwhelmed by the support that he has received via the petition.
"The support that I've had through the petition is massive," said Alfie, "I cannot thank people enough. It just shows how much support I have got behind me and it's just lovely.
"I would like to thank everyone in the local community - I could not ask for a better group of people to be behind me."
Commenting on their reasons for signing the petition one person said: "Because he is a friend of mine and he is just trying to help people that can't afford tip runs and stuff.
"Leave him alone and let him crack on."
Another person said: "Get a grip Lancashire County Council - you're a disgrace for banning this hard working lad."
However, a spokesman for Lancashire County Council said that the council's hands are tied.
"We love Alfie's entrepreneurial spirit and that he's keen to help his community. We would like to be in a position to support him, however as Alfie is accepting payment for taking people's rubbish away it is classed as trade waste and our recycling centres are not licensed to deal with it.
"We have to treat everyone equally and, as they are a publicly funded service dealing with household waste, we can't allow our recycling centres to be used by businesses, however large or small.
"If people in Clitheroe need to dispose of bulky items, the borough council charges £15 to collect up to four items, and there are a number of charities and other organisations who will collect items such as furniture and working electrical goods for free."
To sign the petition visit: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/to-lift-alfie-the-bob-a-job-ban-from-clitheroe-recycling-centre