A BEXLEY scrap metal dealer says new laws aimed at curbing metal theft are making it hard for him to survive.

Jamie Richardson, 30, has only been in the trade a few months but claims his Richardson & Son’s business is already struggling to cope with regulations brought in by the Government.

The father-of-two now has to pay for one of two kinds of licence in every borough in which he operates, restricting the kinds of collections he can make.

He also has to ask for ID from every resident he collects from whereas before he could pick up any scrap left out without having to speak to anyone if the homeowners weren’t in.

Mr Richardson, who drives uses a long wheelbase LDV Maxus van to make his collections, told News Shopper: "It’s been very slow recently.

"I used to fill up the van twice in one day and now I’m working two days before I’ve filled the van up once.

Mr Richardson now has to ask for ID when picking up bits of scrap like this. 

"This has taken some people I know off the road. I offer a free service and I don’t charge people to take things away so it’s not like I’m out here earning millions.

"With the new laws now I’m being restricted to working just in Bexley and it’s hard for me to figure out a way to carry on operating."

Mr Richardson says he used to work in Greenwich as well as Bexley but is struggling to afford the price of a licence in both boroughs.

Where dealers used to be able to make both informal door-to-door collections and pre-arranged ones - taking scrap back to a designated site - they now have to choose between one way of operating or the other in a particular borough.

A site licence in Bexley costs £565 for three years and a collectors’ licence £285 and a business cannot hold both at once.

Since the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 came into force on December 1, Mr Richardson claims he misses out on a lot of business because many people are out when he knocks on doors to ask if he can take scrap that’s been left out.

The dealer with his van. 

He said: "I’m not against trying to reduce metal theft. I think a lot of the blame is with the scrap yards taking the stolen metals.

"If I roll in there with a statue of Nelson on my van I would expect them to call the police but it seems people are getting away with things like that at the moment."

Bexley Council hosted 42 dealers at a meeting to explain the new laws and how to apply for licences on December 2.

Licensing committee chairman Councillor Brad Smith said: "These changes are a lot to take in and we are glad so many scrap metal dealers made the effort to come along and find out more about how they could be affected.

"Bexley is as committed to helping the scrap metal trade to understand the new law as it is to tackling anybody who chooses not to comply and trades in an unlawful manner."

Scrap Metal Dealers Act

  • The act is aimed at clamping down on the estimated 1,000 metal thefts per week which cost the UK around £220 million a year.
  • It gives local authorities and police the power to revoke licenses where they suspect illegal activity. 
  • All sellers of metal must provide verifiable ID which is recorded and retained by the dealer Deals can no longer be done in cash.
  • There is now a single national publicly available register of all scrap metal dealers.