Supermarket bosses and council officials are at loggerheads in a row over charges for the collection of abandoned shopping trolleys in West Norfolk, it has emerged.
Last month, borough council leaders revealed that more than 700 trolleys had been picked up across the area during a 12 week trial.
However, officials have said they are optimistic that traders are doing more to tackle the problem ahead of the launch of new schemes next month.
But, despite that, the authority has been forced to defend the conduct of the contractor brought in to implement the initiative, TCS, after admitting there had been claims from some retailers that the company had acted illegally.
But Chris Bamfield, West Norfolk Council’s executive director, said: “Despite asking retailers to provide evidence, to date, none has been received to support these allegations.
“We believe that TCS are acting in accordance with guidelines.”
As previously reported, councils that signed up to government legislation can charge stores up to £100 for each abandoned trolley they collect.
A total of 725 trolleys, the vast majority in Lynn, were collected across the borough during the initial trial of the scheme, which was scaled back last month to allow stores to collect their own trolleys during weekdays.
Following talks between the authority and retailers, weekday collections from council car parks have also been scaled back.
But Mr Bamfield admitted that the number of trolleys collected during the original trial had “far exceeded” their estimates.
Charges were initially reduced for a further trial period, but have since been backdated.
But Mr Bamfield said: “While the council wishes to see trolleys collected promptly, it is not the council’s intention to make the charges punitive or to make any income from the scheme.
“As with all schemes of this nature, some retailers have paid the charges promptly and some have not. This is the same picture across the country.
“The contractors have appropriate processes in place to recover these charges and, should it become necessary, they will commence recovery proceedings.
The council says retailers have also been invited to run their own programmes for picking up trolleys, which means they do not have to pay the authority’s collection charges.
The new regime will begin on March 17 and Mr Bamfield believes the approach of encouraging businesses to take responsibility may already be paying off.
He said: “We are optimistic as we have already noticed a change in some supermarkets, whereby posters have been displayed and announcements have been read out, reminding customers to return trolleys or report abandoned ones to them.
“We hope this will continue when the new schemes start.”